Statistical and Mathematical Tools

Univariate Analysis

Multivariate Approaches to Data Analysis

Other Mathematical Analyses: Structural Equation Modeling and Path Analysis

Natural Resource Accounting

Life Cycle Assessment

Ecological Footprints

Carbon Footprints

Using Indicators to Assess Agricultural Systems

Sustainability Indicators and Indices: Practical Considerations

SARE Case Study: Using Life Cycle Assessment at the University of New Hampshire’s Organic Dairy Research Farm 


Indicators arise from values and they create values.Not only do we measure what we value, we also come to value what we measure. —Donella Meadows

Just as there are multiple ways to design systems experiments, there are several methods for analyzing the data from these experiments. This chapter presents typical quantitative and qualitative methodologies for analyzing systems and gives examples of their applications. Like the boundaries of a systems experiment, the statistical methods are determined by the questions being asked and by the experimental design.

Analyzing complex systems is challenging; try to include someone with statistical expertise, or work with a consulting statistician for the design and analysis phases.

This chapter covers three general approaches to agricultural systems analysis:

  • Statistical and mathematical tools, including univariate and multivariate analyses and mathematical modeling
  • Natural resource accounting methods, such as life cycle assessments and ecological footprints
  • Sustainability indices/indicator frameworks.

Download the tables from Chapter 4.