• AgriBenchmark: Benchmarking Sustainable Nutrient Management on Irish Farms

      Murphy, Paul N.C.; Thomas, Ian; Buckley, Cathal; Kelly, Edel; Dillon, Emma; Hennessy, Thia; Environmental Protection Agency (2020-10-14)
      AgriBenchmark explored the possibilities for benchmarking of nutrient management performance on Irish farms. Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) data (2008–2015; 1446 farms) were used to characterise and explore the potential for improvement of farm nutrient management performance and resultant aspects of environmental and economic sustainability through the derivation of three key performance indicators (KPIs) at the farm-gate level: farm nutrient balance (kgha–1), nutrient use efficiency (NUE; %) and profitability (gross margin; €ha–1). In this report, the farm nutrient balance is defined as the farm-gate nutrient imports (fertiliser, feed, animals, etc.) minus the exports (animals, crops, wool and milk). A positive balance (surplus) is considered to represent a nutrient source pressure in terms of the risk of nutrient losses to the wider environment. The data and analyses in this report cover the main, more intensive agricultural systems in Ireland (excluding pig and poultry farms) and are representative of, on average, 61% of farms nationally and 76% of the total utilised agriculture area (UAA; excluding commonage).
    • Sustainability indicators for improved assessment of the effects of agricultural policy across the EU: Is FADN the answer?

      Kelly, Edel; Latruffe, Laure; Desjeux, Yann; Ryan, Mary; Uthes, Sandra; Diazabakanab, Ambre; Dillon, Emma; Finn, John; European Union; 613800 (Elsevier, 2018-06)
      Policy reform of the CAP and society’s expectations of agriculture have resulted in a growing need for improved information on the effectiveness of policy in achieving high-level objectives for more sustainable practice in agriculture. This is a high priority given its importance for consumers, public policy and private industry. Data collection programmes will need to adapt their scope if their information is to adequately address new information needs about high-level objectives. Assessment of sustainability at the farm level is hindered by the lack of data with which to derive appropriate, meaningful, and relevant indicators. This is particularly problematic for assessment of agricultural sustainability across the European Union (EU). Various databases exist at the EU scale regarding agricultural data sources and we identify one of these, the EU Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN), as having considerable potential to assess farm-level sustainability at EU level. We critique several examples of published work that has attempted to assess agricultural sustainability using: FADN data alone; FADN data in combination with data from supplementary surveys, and; FADN data in combination with data from other EU databases. We conclude that the FADN would need to broaden its scope of data collection if it is to address the new information needs of policy, and we discuss the challenges in expanding FADN with a view towards wider farm-level assessment of sustainability. These include careful selection of indicators based on various criteria, the representativeness of the FADN, and the need to include new themes to address environmental, social, and animal welfare effects of policy.