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By David Boderke Farmers Guardian, 4 May 2012
A new virtual institute to help farmers produce more efficiently and an updated software ‘tool’, which helps farming and food industries to calculate their carbon footprint, are being launched this week. The open-source tool can be downloaded free from the Cool Farm Tool Institute website.
The Cool Farm Tool (CFT) was created by the University of Aberdeen in partnership with Unilever and the Sustainable Food Lab to guide farmers over their greenhouse gas emissions and to provide tips on how they might reduce their environmental impacts.
The computer-based tool – also aimed at processors and retailers with sustainability schemes – has already been successfully used by a number of market leaders including PepsiCo, Marks and Spencer and Costco.
It has also been widely piloted by farmers who have helped guide refinements and improvements of the updated version of CFT.
The Cool Farm Tool Institute is a new virtual organisation aimed at helping farmers and those businesses they supply make informed on-farm decision to reduce their environmental impact.
Although in the first phase it will primarily be used to distribute and support the use of CFT, it will also collate data and case studies to provide advice on best environmental practice for farmers.
CFT was developed by Dr Jon Hillier and Prof Pete Smith of the Environmental Modelling Group at the University of Aberdeen.
Dr Hillier said “The farmer or grower then enters their own data on how they are managing their crops or livestock such as; the kind and quantities of fertiliser they are using, livestock feed, and energy used in field machinery operation, animal housing, and on-site storage or processing.
“The tool then provides a tailored emissions profile and suggests likely beneficial mitigation options, such as the use of more efficient fertilisers, using different technologies, better soil carbon management, or looking again at the energy they are using for storage.”