Field to Market, The Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, today at American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting, introduced a new version of the Fieldprint Calculator to help growers across the country identify the environmental impact of management decisions made on the farm.
The Fieldprint Calculator, first launched in 2009, is an interactive online tool for education and awareness, which explores relationships between management practices and outcomes. The Fieldprint Calculator helps growers assess corn, wheat, soybean, cotton and rice operations in terms of land use, soil conservation, soil carbon, water use, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. This is the first version of the tool to be available to rice growers.
“Questions around how food and fiber is produced are increasingly top-of-mind for consumers interested in how their food is raised, and for farmers focused on maintaining natural resources on their operations for years to come,” said Bob Young, chief economist of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which is a member of Field to Market.“The updated version of the Fieldprint Calculator strives for a balance of simplicity and accuracy. It also includes additional outcomes-based methods to help growers evaluate their Fieldprint on a local level.”
The new version of the Fieldprint Calculator features new capabilities to make results more accurate and consistent, and the improvements were made based on recommendations from growers. Data entry has been streamlined through GIS datasets and information entry points while adding sophistication and accuracy with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) RUSLE2 and the NRCS Soil Conditioning Index (SCI).
Growers can now compare their Fieldprint to similar operations across the county, state and nation, through local, state and national comparisons and scenario-based options. Other new features include crop rotation inclusion, soil carbon calculations and an enterprise budget function to analyze cost savings for on-farm decisions.
“Using the Fieldprint Calculator has been eye-opening. The tool allows me to rethink how we do specific tasks on our farm. Looking at graphs of our farm’s data helped me recognize where we could improve our sustainability,” said Brian Marshall, a corn and soybean grower in Maysville, Mo. “As a grower, I know my farm is being compared to the average for farms in our county which makes the data more relevant to us. It is easy to get started and I encourage all growers to take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits this tool provides.”
The Fieldprint Calculator is undergoing several pilot projects supported by Field to Market members to test the new features, as well as to learn more about its potential uses and future improvements. Corn growers in Nebraska worked with Bunge and Kellogg Company to use the Calculator to validate sustainable practices and identify areas of improvement within the company’s Frosted Flake production. Also, Syngenta and rice growers in the Southeast have worked together to determine opportunities to improve sustainable practices and realize economic benefits.
The Van Buren Conservation District, The Coca-Cola Company, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund are supporting a pilot project in the Paw Paw Watershed of Michigan while General Mills and Syngenta are also working with farmers in Idaho. The projects are designed to help improve the tools Field to Market provides to growers as well as educate growers on how to tell and improve their own sustainability story.
The Fieldprint Calculator was developed to accelerate gains made within the farm gate and help articulate those practices outside the farm gate. In recent years, conversation about sustainability-based metrics is rapidly evolving, and doing so on both sides of the farm gate. Field to Market wants to contribute to that dialog though Fieldprint Calculator 2.0.
By building awareness on these issues and sharing best practices, Field to Market is working to document accelerated improvements throughout the agriculture supply chain so that future generations can enjoy the vital products of agriculture and an ever improving environment.
Field to Market, The Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, is a diverse initiative that joins producers, agribusinesses, food companies, conservation organizations and university and agency partners seeking to create sustainable outcomes for agriculture. Field to Market is facilitated by The Keystone Center, an independent, non-profit organization specializing in collaborative decision-making processes for environment, energy, and health policy issues. For more information, visit www.fieldtomarket.org.