Assessing agro-ecological practices using a combination of three sustainability assessment tools
The alignment of the environmental, economic and social sustainability of farms is necessary for enhancing the provision of public goods in farming. This study combines the use of three tools for the assessment of farm sustainability. It provides first insights into the sustainability performance of farms at different stages of agro-ecological transitions in 15 case studies covering a range of different farming systems across Europe. Each case study reflects a different transition towards agro-ecological farming. The tools applied were COMPAS (an economic farm assessment tool); Cool Farm Tool (a greenhouse gas inventory, water footprint and biodiversity assessment tool); and the SMART Farm Tool (a multidimensional sustainability assessment tool). First results of the use of combined sustainability assessments deepen the understanding of different farming systems. Sustainability performance varies greatly between farms, but overall, agro-ecological farms tend to enhance biodiversity and water quality. For soil quality, no clear patterns could be identified. The same applies to economic performance at different stages of the agro-ecological transition. Quality of life was generally rated medium to high on all investigated farms. The combined sustainability assessment enabled the identification of areas for further policy development. Aligning the tools required harmonising definitions, simplification and assumptions with regard to the input data of the tools.