Farmers can now compare their business’s impact on the environment using a new tool designed to help them operate in a more sustainable and productive way.
The free online software allows farmers to see how the way they use their land compares to similar farms.
By using the tool, farmers can identify areas of their business or practices where they can improve economic and environmental performance.
The tool, available on www.benchmarkmyfarm.co.uk draws on information from the Government’s Farm Business Survey.
Farmers can compare their carbon footprint, their nutrient balance and how they interact with their community.
It was developed as part of the Defra-funded Sustainable Intensification Research Platform (SIP) programme, by experts from Cambridge, Exeter and Nottingham universities.
Professor Paul Wilson, of the University of Nottingham, said: “Farmers are increasingly interested in the sustainability performance of their business and how this compares with similar farm businesses.
“By putting in details of their farm’s cropping and stocking, along with the county in which their main farm area is based, this tool helps farmers compare their performances with a group of farm businesses that are closely matched to their own.
“They can also see the average sustainability credentials of this group.”
Professor Michael Winter, of the University of Exeter, is leading on phase two of the project, which is called: “Opportunities and risks for farming and the environment at landscape scales.”
Professor Winter said: “This unique new tool addresses the increasingly important farm management question, ‘how is my farm performing environmentally?’
“For the first time it is possible to compare across peer-groups as well as against the national average for your farm type. The more information farmers put into the tool, the more they will get out of it.”
Farmers can compare their performance with others in just one area, or a wider set of indicators. The names of the other farms are kept anonymous.
Those who use the tool can save their data, and their information will be kept safe and secure. As soon as they use the tool they will start to get comparative data back.