AgBalance™ - Measuring sustainability in agriculture
Based on its long experience with Eco-Efficiency Analysis and SEEBALANCE®, BASF has developed AgBalance™, a method to measure and assess sustainability in agriculture.
As a provider of agricultural solutions, BASF aims to increase knowledge about sustainable agriculture and contribute to a fact-based dialog, as well as using these insights for developing innovative and sustainable solutions for our customers.
In AgBalance™, a variety of indicators and weighting schemes enable BASF to evaluate sustainable practices in a holistic manner along the entire food value chain. To achieve this, 69 indicators, each linked to one of the three pillars of sustainability (economy, environment and society) are calculated through an assessment of almost 200 evaluation factors. Therewith AgBalance™ allows the comparison of different farming systems, agricultural enterprises, processes and products, by identifying weaknesses, their drivers and potential solutions.
BASF consulted a wide number of stakeholders and experts with a farming and agro-science backgrounds to ensure the incorporation of a profound and global understanding of sustainable farming in the AgBalance™ method.
The AgBalance™ methodology has been tested for coherence and functionality by the independent expert agency DNV GL Business Assurance.
AgBalance™ is based on the following 69 indicators related to all of the three pillars of sustainability.
Soil is the basis for food production today and in the future. Indicators such as nutrient balance or levels of organic matter affect the growth of plants and the conditions for organisms in the soil.
The efficient use of water - e.g. with drip irrigation - is critical, especially when water is a scarce resource. Water use is measured and assessed along the whole life cycle of products and processes.
The 'Trainees' indicator relates to the development of farming's next generation and considers their educational requirements. It shows whether future generations are considered in a manner that ensures the future development of the sector.
Consumers expect their food to be safe and meet legal requirements. Thus exceeding maximum residue limits of crop protection products or poisonous fungi on crops would result in a negative sustainability score.
Farm costs such as rents, labor costs and the maintenance and repair costs of technical equipment are substantial in agriculture and can make smaller scale agriculture challenging, as it does not usually benefit from economies of scale.
There is almost no other business that faces such a volatile macroeconomic situation: e.g. farm profit, a key indicator, depends on global commodity prices. High farm profits result in a high sustainability score since it is a prerequisite for economic viability.