The Cool Farm Tool gives farmers a simple way to measure the carbon footprint of their crops and animal products
The Cool Farm Institute is a not-for-profit organisation launched in May 2012 to help millions of growers globally to reduce their environmental impact. Led by Unilever, the Sustainable Food Lab and Aberdeen University, its many partners now include Marks & Spencer, PepsiCo, Tesco, Heineken and WWF. Best Foot Forward was asked to develop a website to host the Cool Farm Tool (CFT), a new calculator to help farmers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The tool has been adopted by multinational companies in many different countries, who are using it with their suppliers to reduce their carbon footprint.
The Cool Farm Tool was tested widely with farmers across the world. It offers them the latest carbon science and data in a useful form, giving them a simple, free way to measure the impact of their crops and animal products. It helps farmers understand where their hotspots are, and what the different scenarios are for reducing emissions. Farmers input general information which they have readily available, such as crop area, yield, soil type, fertilisers, as well as some detailed information on electricity and fuel use (for field operations and primary processing). Reducing emissions often also means reducing cost and creating new opportunities. For example, composting can reduce methane emissions - and the compost itself can also be sold. Unlike many other agricultural carbon calculators, the CFT measures the increase in carbon stored in soil, which is an important way of offsetting other GHG emissions.
By helping growers directly, the CFT also helps multinational companies to manage the emissions from their supply chains. Many manufacturers and retailers are adopting ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and agriculture is a key part of their carbon footprint. The CFT is a standardised tool which producers can use to report back, so that companies have consistent information about their supply chains. Working with suppliers, companies can pool expertise and tackle their impact. For example, Heinz has been using the tool, together with its tomato growers in California, to look at how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced.
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