Developing a tool to tackle farm greenhouse gas emissions
The Cool Farm Institute is a not-for-profit organization launched in May 2012 to help millions of growers globally to reduce their environmental impact. The online version of the Cool Farm Tool Online (CFT), developed by Anthesis has been launched this month (January 2014). This greenhouse gas calculator is aimed at helping farmers determine their on-site carbon emissions, through a series of user friendly data entry points. The Cool Farm Tool offers farmers worldwide the latest carbon science and data in a useful form, giving them a simple, free way to measure the impact of their crops and livestock products. It helps farmers understand where their hotspots are, and what the different scenarios are for reducing emissions and improving their resource efficiency.
By helping growers directly, the CFT also helps multinational companies to manage the emissions from their supply chains. Many manufacturers and retailers are adopting ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and agriculture is a key part of their carbon footprint. The CFT is a standardized tool which producers can use to report back, so that companies have consistent information about their supply chains. Working with suppliers, companies can pool expertise and tackle their impact. For example, Heinz has been using the tool, together with its tomato growers in California, to look at how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced.
The original Excel version was developed by the University of Aberdeen and Sustainable Food Labs, and refined through engaging with suppliers. Both played a leading role in ensuring the quality and integrity of the final version. A large number of producers were consulted during the development of the CFT – which has been extensively tested with companies such as McCain and Tesco. Unlike many other agricultural carbon calculators, the CFT measures the increase in carbon stored in soil, which is an important way of offsetting other GHG emissions. The feedback so far has been very positive and the Cool Farm Institute anticipates a high amount of traffic from agricultural and livestock suppliers. This is aided by the key Cool Farm Institute whose members include: PepsiCo, Unilever, Heineken, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Yara and Fertilizers Europe.