Access To Land

Handbook on farm impact assessment

Showcasing methods for evaluating, communicating and improving a farm’s environmental, social and economic outcomes

How do you measure the many benefits of an agroecological approach to farming? How can that be done in practical ways that are not overly complex or costly to carry out? And how can farmers and land-based organisations use such results to communicate the interlinking mutual benefits of agroecology?
This new 72pp guide, developed as part of the Access to Land Learning Platform project, presents a selection of 8 tools from various European countries that have been tried and tested in the field. The tools were chosen according to the following criteria:

  • They are already being used by members of the Access to Land Network
  • They are public access tools and/or from non-profit associations and the methodology and criteria used to develop the tool are public
  • They are easy to use by volunteers and others without needing lots of technical formation
  • They are diverse in terms of the aspect being assessed (true cost accounting, environmental, global system)

Each tool is partnered with a case study showing the tool in action, evaluating its advantages and limitations, and providing practical results for the farm to demonstrate its agroecological impact and identify areas on which to build and/or develop.

  • Cool Farm Tool - ideal to identify a farm’s greenhouse gas emissions and how these can be reduced.
    Case study: ‘El Pastor de Riudaura’, a milk goat-rearing farm in Riudaura, la Garrotxa, Catalonia.
  • DIALECTE - describes farming systems and assesses the environmental performance of farms. A comprehensive approach at farm scale.
    Case study: overview of 27 Terre de Liens farms, France.
  • ECODIAG - an assessment leading to action for farm resilience.
    Case study: a 4 hectare organic horticultural farm in the Maresme area, Catalonia
  • FADEAR - peasant agriculture diagnosis to assess farm impact in an annual report. Case study: La Gavasenca, an extensive organic milk goat-rearing farm, in Gavàs, in the Catalan Pyrenees.
  • HUMUS - a participative tool for assessment of soils and biodiversity.
    Case study: free range pig farm, Les Eygageyres, Haute-Loire, Auvergne, France
  • IDEA - ideal for assessing the sustainability of a farm in a simple way.
    Case study: Cal Tomaso, a mixed sheep and cow farm in the municipality of Àger, in the Noguera region of the Pyrenees.
  • Richtig Rechnen - accounting sustainability of farms as part of the annual business results.
    Case study: ‘Naturgut Hörnle’, a fruit and vegetable farm in Baden-Würtemberg, close to the city of Freiburg, Germany.
  • SAFA - sustainability assessment of food and agriculture systems.
    Case study: Brunec, an extensive cattle farm in Pobellà in the Catalan Pyrenees.

Some tools (Diagnostic of Peasant Agriculture, IDEA and SAFA) give an overall assessment, an overview of the social, economic and environmental benefits farms produce with their activity concerning society. Other tools are more focused on assessing the environmental impact of management and farming practices, such as ECODIAG (which assesses the potential biodiversity that a farm can create around it), HUMUS (which assesses soil conditions and soil biodiversity) and DIALECTE (which sets the general environmental performance of farms).

Others such as the Cool Farm Tool assesses specifically the greenhouse gas emissions per surface of production. And Richtig Rechnen calculates the extra expenses an agroecological farm has in order to undertake sustainability practices. This gives an idea of how much these farms should be compensated for undertaking these practices.

As each tool presents both limitation and advantages, as illustrated by the case studies, this guide will help find the best tool for each and enable you to choose the tool that best fits your needs.
The guide also includes a useful summary table of 5 other interesting tools, a short description of their purpose, the skills needed to complete the assessments, the strengths and potential limitations as well as useful website links.

This publication was developed as part of an Erasmus+ European strategic partnership project.

Published: 03/2021
Format: PDF
Languages: English

Impact Assessment (A2L-Handbook) English


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