A new web-based tool for farmers needing to know how efficiently they’re using resources has been launched by the consulting division of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). The SAC Consulting AgRE Calc programme, which in its simple form will be will be available free to all Scottish farmers, will also help them reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The new service was launched during the announcement in Edinburgh of the next phase of the Scottish Government’s Farming for a Better Climate initiative by the cabinet secretary for rural affairs, Richard Lochhead MSP.
SAC Consulting’s Julian Bell said looking ahead, farmers were going to have to produce more food, with fewer resources and less environmental impact.
“We have developed AgRE Calc to help them measure their use of resources and carbon emissions across the whole farm, a particular enterprise or even by product,” he added. “The data farmers will need is already available from things like IACS submissions, livestock records, invoices and sales.”
The tool has been developed by SRUC over a number of years with input from staff in both SAC Consulting and research divisions. This ensures it can be updated as science develops. There’s already enough data in the system to allow users to benchmark their own farms against similar ones, and as more farmers use AgRE Calc this will enrich the database making the tool even more representative of Scottish and UK farms.
“The system generates key performance indicators (KPIs) such as the electricity used per cow or red diesel consumption per hectare,” Mr Bell said. “It also allows you to pinpoint any wasteful hot spots in your business so you can take action to improve efficiency and cut costs.”
It’s the only such tool that encompasses all typical farm enterprises, from livestock to fruit and vegetables, the system operates to internationally recognised standards (IPCC and PAS 2050). This provides assurance that the greenhouse gas emissions are calculated in a consistent way across the industry.
Although the basic system will be available free on the web, in order to fund reinvestment in the service, SRUC will eventually charge for those needing more detailed benchmark data and group comparisons.
AgRE Calc can be accessed via: www.agrecalc.com