Tuesday, 19 September 2017

 

Since last autumn, the farmers and the professionals involved in potato growing and potato trade have a new instrument to measure the impact of management options of all cultures, including potato, and to demonstrate improvements and transparency in terms of agricultural sustainability. 

By Ioana Oancea

With Cool Farming Tool, which is free, farmers have access to hard data that shows the effect of their farming practices and how to improve them.

To find out more on this tool, PotatoBusiness.com asked Daniella Malin, deputy general manager, Cool Farm Alliance (CFA).

“The Cool Farm Tool is the only globally relevant tool that works for all major crops and regions, unlike many other tools, the Cool Farming Tool is useful at both ends of the supply chain - for the farmer to see the impact of management options and for the supply chain to aggregate and manage GHG (n.r.- greenhouse gases) emissions at scale,” Malin explains.

The Cool Farm Tool contains the most up-to-date emission factors for embedded emissions from the manufacture of fertilizers and includes different emission factors for each of 10 fertilizer source regions around the globe, as the developer says. It is also multi-metric with biodiversity now available for temperate forested biome and a water metric soon to be available for 25 major crops and all regions globally.

Never ending development

The Cool Farm Tool development is also uniquely governed by an open industry platform whose members provide input and share in the Tool’s development, Malin continues.

“The tool is under constant development. This has never stopped. We are working now on the water metric, dramatic improvements to the GHG calculations for perennial crops, upgrades to the N2O emissions estimations model and soil carbon sequestration models. We’re translating the tool to French and Spanish. There is no one point that is the most important. The first few years, while the tool was unproven may have been the most difficult but each development has its challenges and rewards,” the representative from CFA adds.

The tool is useful both to farmers due to its interactive nature which draws farmers in to considering different management options and to other supply chain professionals, agronomists, sustainability managers and procurement officers who need to demonstrate improvements and transparency with respect to agricultural sustainability.

Irrigation precision, utilizing of fertilizers or efficiency of storage facilities are procedures that can be monitored and improved by using CFA. “Irrigation precision can help optimize yields for the same amount of inputs. Fertilizers sourced from more efficient manufacturing can have a dramatic impact on the overall footprint as well as more precise quantities and timings so that less fertilizer is needed. Added insulation in storage facilities and energy efficiencies, renewable energy sources on the farm are all good places to look,” Malin says.

CFA Annual Meeting 

The CFA Annual Meeting, held at New College in Oxford, UK, March, 16-17, will feature case studies of CFT uses including uses of the new biodiversity module, updates on all of the latest developments, opportunities for CFT users to learn from and collaborate with each other, issues of data interoperability with farm-management software and effective design of CFT projects in supply chains will all be on display. The Cool Farm Alliance membership has grown dramatically since last year marking a significant shift in corporate preparedness to take action on agricultural GHG mitigation and sustainability improvements.

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