The Cool Farm Tool Biodiversity metric allows farmers to score points for the good practices they are implementing. This is a way for them to demonstrate the good they are doing and gain recognition for this. The tool boils complexity into a series of multiple choice questions that help you quantify baseline impacts on biodiversity, and measure and track improvements over time. As buyers continue to want more transparency and evidence of good practice, the biodiversity score give you a way to provide this.
You do not need to have any data on biodiversity at hand, but you need knowledge of the practices you implement on your farm and the sizes of areas that are not in production or managed as conservation area for biodiversity. The tool asks you about each practice you employ and gives you a score from which you can see which species groups are benefiting from your practices.
The scope of the CFT Biodiversity metric is whole farm. The other metrics – GHG and Water – are calculated on a crop by crop basis, so this method is different in this respect.
Assessments are initially awarded 21% for not using conventional crop protection products, which can have a negative impact on biodiversity if not managed appropriately. The 21% are lost once product types (insecticides, fungicides etc) are specified in question 2.3, but can later be recovered for actions related to responsible use (2.4 – 2.8).
The scores reflect the the practices in place that support biodiversity. The more good practices, the higher the score. Scores are given as a percentage of the maximum possible score in each category. These are shown as a bar chart on the left for species groups, and as dials on the right for general biodiversity components. For different species groups, actual scores are also presented. In the example (below right), the score 6/22 for ‘wetland or aquatic flora’ means there are 22 points available for this group, and your management practices achieved 6 of them (27%).
The land use pie chart tells you how much of each broad habitat type you are providing on your farm, as a proportion of its total area. For example, ‘woody habitats’ includes all your hedgerows, trees and areas of woodland or forest.
You can always go back and change answers. To go back, just click the tab and scroll down to the one question you left blank. But remember to go back to it or you will miss out on points!
At the bottom of the results page you can download a pdf. This can go on your notice board, you can show it or send to customers, but most of all, it is for you as a record of your achievement and a baseline from which you can build.
Has the accuracy of the biodiversity index predicted by the Cool Farm Tool been tested in the field?
No, the tool has not been validated against empirical biodiversity data. This will be an important step for us, and one we are very keen to get funding for. However, the differences in species richness and abundance of indicator groups according to farm management are likely to be smaller than the differences between farms according to ecological context at a range of scales (including regional species pool, local habitat availability and diversity, very local habitat quality). This means that
- Comparison across many farms with different CFT Biodiversity scores might only be valid if data on surrounding landscape and habitats, and if sufficient farms were available to take this variation into account statistically.
- The tool could be validated by measuring differences over time at the same farms. Due to the variability between years in biodiversity, especially for small-bodied, mobile taxa like insects and small birds, this longitudinal study will need to take place over multiple years.
- For the scores to be correlated with actual biodiversity, you would almost certainly need to weight the large natural habitat component more heavily, or expect a stronger correlation in that component. This is a small component of the tool, but probably has the biggest impact on farm biodiversity.