Tools to improve farm sustainability assessments

Farm landscape
Copyright INRAE and Springer-Verlag

Assessing farm sustainability provides an overview of the various impacts that agriculture has on society. Scientists Chopin et al. recently reviewed 119 tools published to assess farm sustainability. They described 5 groups from stakeholder participation and models used, identified 7 sustainability frameworks utilizing 27 indicators about drivers, pressures or states of the system, but found a lack of impact indicators. They call on developing a novel sustainability framework taking account of agronomic productivity, governance and resilience of farming systems.

Considering crop rotations and residues in agricultural carbon footprint assessments

Picture copyright Brankatschk et al.

Crop rotations and residues fulfill important agronomic functions but they are inadequately considered in product carbon footprint calculations. Scientists Brankatschk and Finkbeiner recalculated carbon footprints for bread, milk, first-generation biodiesel and second-generation bioethanol and showed that crop rotations and residues influence the results and should be considered in the process. Without inclusion of crop rotation effects, environmental advantages of improvements in agricultural practices enabled by crop rotations will remain undetected.