Questions And Answers On Measuring Sustainability
Measuring sustainability is a challenge. At BASF, a group of data modelling experts has spent the last 25 years developing new methodologies to meet this challenge.
Dr Maria Stenull, from Global Sustainability & Product Stewardship at BASF's Agricultural Solutions division is responsible for AgBalance™. We asked her to answer 10 essential questions on AgBalance™.
Agricultural production is a complex system, the more you look into the depth and details, the more you broaden your view to the whole food chain from inputs, processes on the field, processing of food and feed, retailer and to consumers.
AgBalance™ assesses the sustainability of solutions and processes in agricultural production systems. It makes a holistic analysis of indicators from all three sustainability pillars - environment, society and economy. It aggregates all the individual elements of information into a single score result, showing the most sustainable option in relative terms.
There are 69 indicators based on the three pillars of sustainable agriculture, environment, society and economy. For example, water use or soil conditions are amongst the environmental indicators. Fixed and variable costs among the economic indicators and conditions for workers – wages and education – among the social indicators.
BASF provides agricultural solutions and if we want to give our customers the best products to increase and secure their yields sustainably and meet the future challenges, analyzing sustainability in agriculture is a prerequisite.
Our business depends on understanding the needs of farming in the societal and political context. We then respond by designing solutions for sustainable farming in collaboration with our partners.
There are a number of established methodologies, each with a different focus that can measure progress in sustainable agriculture. AgBalance™ is an expert system from BASF, unique in its scope, depth and breadth of analysis. AgBalance™ is based on a huge data set, thanks to BASF's 15-years of experience with the Eco-Efficiency Analysis.
AgBalance™ is a global method for use in either regional or local assessments, using largely regional or local data. Of course, there is the assumption that all necessary modifications will be applied.
A series of AgBalance™ studies are due to be conducted for a broad range of key customers and stakeholders in the food and feed value chains, including manufacturers of crop protection solutions, distributors, farmers and retailers. Also beyond the actual food chain, organizations and decision makers in the area of agriculture and food production may have an interest in an AgBalance™ analysis.