Measuring agricultural sustainability can lead to continuous improvement - AgBalance™ is a comprehensive evaluation method to measure and assess the sustainability performance of different farming systems, agricultural enterprises, processes and products across three dimensions of economy, environment and society.
BASF SE developed AgBalance™ to improve the fact-based understanding of the trade-offs within and across these dimensions and help drive innovative and sustainable solutions for our customers and wider audiences.
With AgBalance™ BASF is providing data and opportunities to answer questions such as:
- What are the key sustainability drivers for any given agricultural production system?
- What conditions negatively impact sustainability in agriculture?
- How to make production systems more sustainable?
The engine room of AgBalance™ is a holistic life cycle assessment based on over 20 years’ data from more than 600 studies and informs the user of decisions that will help them manage continuous improvement. With 69 indicators of sustainability across 16 categories of interest such as working conditions, human toxicity, fair trade, variable costs, farm profits, water use, emissions, soil health and biodiversity, AgBalance™ can provide management-orientated solutions for agriculture based on life-cycle analysis.
Getting business performance data collected and cleaned for an individual business does take time and financial resources to achieve the necessary clarity for statements of improvement to be made.
However, BASF SE has developed a virtual farming game which allows the participant to complete a five-year rotation cycle, changing crop type, farming intensity and cultivation type, to deliver an understanding of the trade-offs that occur between economics and environment when certain crop production choices are taken. It puts the user in a farmer’s shoes, challenges them to consider eco-efficiency and is a fun door-opener to agricultural practitioners and non-technical audiences. Good results come from a reasonable combination of the management factors already described. Agriculture is about strategy (~70%) and luck (~30%). Community chests are used by the game itself to put both aspects into perspective.
The journey of the AgBalance™ virtual farm game is the reward. Users, often in teams can take time to reflect on their performance and compare their knowledge with other teams