Whereas the liberalisation of the world markets seems to exert today the greatest pressure on development, sustainable production is the most important leading principle. Numerous studies have been conducted to evaluate the degree of sustainability on a national and local level and broadly accepted indicators have also been recommended. However, only little information for the precise assessment of a single farm is available. The present paper explains first, why sustainability is not a value on its own. Then it introduces an instrument called “Response-Inducing Sustainability Evaluation” (RISE), which allows for 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 Risk, Pest and Disease Management, Waste and Residues, Cash Flow, Farm Income, Investments, Local Economy, and Social Situation. For each indicator the “Driving force” (D) and the “State” (S) are assessed (values from 0 to 100). For example for Pest and Disease Management, D is the result of the amount of active ingredient times the risk factor of the applied pesticide and S is the result of an assessment of the applied plant protection system. The Sustainability Degree (SD) is the result of S minus D (values of -100 to + 100, single values that are higher than +10 are considered sustainable, the entire system is considered sustainable when no values are lower than -10). The results are summarized and displayed in a sustainability polygon. The instrument RISE was tested and used for evaluating very different farms in Brazil, China and Switzerland. Results are considered relevant with regard to the objective stated. Further testing, adaptation and fine-tuning is envisioned.
Gilgen A., Felder R., Baumgartner S., Herzog F., Jeanneret P., Séchaud R., Paunovic S., Merbold L.
Agroscope researchers tested the FAO method for assessing the agroecological status of farms in Switzerland for the first time, demonstrating the advantages of a holistic evaluation as well as the limits of the tool.
In wheat crops, pesticides can be used more sparingly without sacrificing cost-efficiency. With oilseed rape the situation is more difficult, since the reduced yields are not offset by higher revenues. These are the findings of the analysis of the first two harvest years of the PestiRed project.
Soil samples can be measured directly in the field by means of spectroscopy. Agroscope researchers have tested mobile devices and shown how to make the best use of them.