RISE, a Tool for Holistic Sustainability Assessment at the Farm Level

Sustainability must be adopted as a key principle in global markets. Numerous studies have been conducted to evaluate the degree of sustainability on a national and local level. However, only little information for single farm assessment is currently available. The present paper introduces a tool, the "Response-Inducing Sustainability Evaluation" (RISE), which allows an easy assessment at the farm level. It is system-oriented and offers a holistic approach for advice, education and planning. The model covers ecological, economical and social aspects by defining 12 indicators for Energy, Water, Soil, Biodiversity, Emission Potential, Plant Protection, Waste and Residues, Cash Flow, Farm Income, Investments, Local Economy and Social Situation. For each indicator a "State" (S) and a "Driving force" (D) are determined from direct measures of a number of parameters. The "State" indicates the current condition of the specific indicator, higher values are more desirable, and the "Driving force" is a measure of the estimated pressure the farming system places on the specific indicator; in this case lower values are desirable. D and S are standardized on a 0 to 100 scale; a perfect indicator would be identified by S=100 and D=0, whereas significant challenges would be captured by a combination of a low S and a high D. The degree of sustainability (DS) of each indicator is defined as DS= (S-D), bound by construction to the -100 to +100 range. The overall results are summarized and displayed in a sustainability polygon. In addition to this polygon a strength/weakness profile is determined for 1) the stability of the social, economic and ecological framework, 2) farmer's risk awareness and risk management measures, 3) grey energy in machines, buildings and external inputs, 4) animal health and welfare. RISE has been tested and used to evaluate very different farms in Brazil, Canada, China and Switzerland. Results are considered relevant with regard to the objective stated. Further testing, adaptation and fine-tuning is under way. A similar model covering the supply chain to the factory gate is also under development.

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Journal Article
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International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, Volume 06, Issue 4
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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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