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Application of the sustainable agriculture indicators at farm level for England and Wales - NT1855

Sustainability indicators have been developed in response to, amongst other issues, the understanding that sustainability can not be condensed into a single, simple definition or measurement. MAFF published a pilot set of sustainability indicators in early 2000 to provide a means of measuring the economic, social and environmental impacts of agriculture in Great Britain and to help assess the effectiveness of policies and the sustainability of the sector. As policy tools, many of the indicators are highly technical in nature and / or relevant only at regional or national level (e.g. pesticides in groundwater, EU Producer Subsidy Estimate). Few have direct, close links with on-farm management decisions and some are not directly measurable on farm. There is no breakdown of the indicator values for differing farm types nor geographical demarcation. As a consequence, any attempt to persuade farmers to take note and respond to messages provided by the indicator trends is likely to fail. However, changes at farm level will be required before improvements at national level can be seen.

This project proposal seeks to address this issue by describing the National Indicators, using a variety of techniques (including disaggregation, harmonisation, use of surrogate indicators and other measures) at farm level. Data will be stored in an electronic database. A simple tool for farmers will be developed which collates relevant information in order to identify appropriate indicator values for a specific farm and location and provide a management focus such that farmers are provided with information to help them select indicators relevant to their situation, assess their performance and take steps for improvements where required. This should then be reflected at national level. The project also includes a significant amount of awareness raising activities to promote the concept and objectives of the pilot national and farm level indicators.
The proposed project objectives are:

1. To adapt the national pilot indicators, where appropriate, putting them into context at farm level;
2. To develop a simple indicator assessment tool for farmers to use in order to identify the most appropriate bench-mark values for their site and to compare their own farm position with these values;
3. To raise awareness in the farming community of the importance of the indicators;
4. To assist in the promotion of MAFF environmental policy and its commitment to the principles of sustainable development.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Application of the sustainable agriculture indicators at farm level for England and Wales   (199k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2001

To: 2002

Cost: £126,292
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Hertfordshire
Environmental Protection              
Sustainable Production              
Water Pollution