Measuring sustainability at farm level: what tool for what purpose?

There are three methods available for evaluating sustainability at farm level that were developed in Switzerland: RISE, SMART und SALCAsustain. In this article, the three methods are compared by means of a list of criteria and several concrete examples with the aim of making it easier for readers to decide which tool is best suited for their own specific application and target group. All three methods cover sustainability comprehensively, and concrete measures for improvement and decision-making can be derived for the relevant interest groups from the results. The details show that SALCAsustain is suitable for answering research queries as well as analysing different farm-management strategies. RISE’s strength is its flexible applicability which allows for its use in extension and teaching, and in the comparison of farms and groups of farms. SMART enables rapid screening of farm sustainability and provides results which also allow for inter-farm comparisons and which can easily be communicated to third parties. The choice of the appropriate method therefore depends on the question posed as well as on the target group.

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