on farm indicators
David Hine (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mon, 22 Sep 1997 21:51:14 +1000
I have been considering for some time, the usefulness of creating a bit of
software which supports farmers who want to farm sustainably. And I'd
welcome hearing your views on its worthiness/utility and work done in the
area which may help. Maybe the task has already been done fully elsewhere.
I found in talking with other farmers that some were quite interested to
know about what sustainability meant, and how they might apply that to their
situation. On the other hand they did not want to join a group to explore
this - it was something which might supplement what business analysis they
were already doing individually.
So such a project would involve discussing various proposed definitions of
sustainability in agriculture and resolving upon a set of common
principles/characters which for the present purpose might include:
intergenerational equity, dealing carefully with irreversibility,
productivity, resilience, maintenance of natural assets, and equity for
producers. Some considerable work has been done in establishing indicators
of maintenance of natural assets but this has generally been to inform
national conservation policy, not farm management. There would be some
commonality of course, and records of soil conditions on farm - pH , e.c.,
structure and others - could in due course contribute to the
I envisage the software having first a data storage component to give a
place for and significance to recording this information as a tool for the
enterprise. There should be, secondly, incorporated models to assist
decision making since some decisions could have irrreversible implications,
consequently recording the outcomes only isn't satisfactory. For example, if
pH is declining over a number of years, then the implications in soil
erosion and productivity can be brought to the users attention. Simple as
this may seem, it might have saved some banana enterprises/ families/
paddocks here in northern NSW had it been used.
Has anyone any comments?
Sustainable Farm Design Works
Atkins Rd, Cawongla
via Kyogle, NSW, Australia 2474
ph/fax: 61 2 6633 7162.