AgBalance® – Improving Sustainability Performance In Agriculture

Sustainability is an integral feature of modern farming. It is at the center of a farmer’s daily work and drives improvement efforts on the farm. BASF has developed a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tool called AgBalance® that allows farmers to review the contribution of their current farming operation across all three sustainability pillars.

Life cycle approaches offer a robust assessment mechanism to monitor the sustainability performance. Life Cycle Thinking is about going beyond the traditional focus on production site and manufacturing processes, but includes environmental, social and economic impacts of a product over its entire life cycle (Life Cycle Initiative, 2017)1. This may facilitate the analysis of trade-offs between the economic, social and environmental dimensions within entire value chains.

On a farm multiple different farming practices as well as input materials contribute to more or less sustainability in agriculture. How this can be measured to allow the comparison of different ways of farming is detailed below.


The environmental impact in the AgBalance® Model is assessed using the impact categories which are recommended by the (European Commission, 2017)2, except for biodiversity which is an additional impact category.


The inclusion of a social assessment in the AgBalance® analysis depends on the goal and scope of the sustainability analysis and is performed in a separate tool: SEEbalance®


The AgBalance® model considers economic accounts of revenues and expenses. Therefore, the economic analysis is focused on the selling price of the agricultural product and subsidies as an income and the variable and fixed costs of the agricultural system.

How to AgBalance® ?

Following the concept of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), the AgBalance® Model was developed by BASF in 2009-2010 to assess sustainability in the farming sector, applying principles of the LC) framework defined by the ISO 14040 (ISO, 2006a)3 and 14044 (ISO, 2006b) standards. The development is based on the Eco-Efficiency Analysis (see link below) with the addition of nutrient balances and biodiversity to offer a comprehensive assessment of the impacts of cultivation systems.

1 Life Cycle Initiative. (2017). What is Life Cycle Thinking? Retrieved from Life Cycle Initiative:

2 European Commission. (2017). Guidance for the development of Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs), version 6.3

3 ISO. (2006a). ISO 14040 Environmental Management - Life Cycle Assessment - Principles and Framework. Geneva: International Organization for Standardization.

4 ISO. (2006b). ISO 14044: Environmental Management - Life Cycle Assessment - Requirements and Guidelines. Geneva: International Organization for Standardization.



AgBalance® leaflet

Biodiversity Calculator

Here you will estimate the impact of your farming practices on the conservation of biodiversity. Select your region and the land use of your farm, so you can choose the appropiate interventions for conservation!


For further information, contact Kerstin Ulrich

Sustainability Assessment