Farming footprints

New Zealand farmers can now calculate and monitor their carbon footprints following the launch of an industry-specific carbon calculator.


The free web-based calculator, designed by Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) and engineering consultancy AgriLINK, is claimed to be the first monitoring tool of its kind made specifically for farmers. It uses software developed by Lincoln University’s Applied Computing Group.


The calculator determines emissions from livestock, farm energy use, and the use of fertiliser and feed, to arrive at totals for methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide emissions. These are then converted and expressed as total CO2 equivalents.


The calculation requires farmers to enter basic data such as farm size, livestock numbers, fertiliser application, fuel usage and their contractors’ activities.


Prof Caroline Saunders, director of AERU, said that the calculator fills a major gap in the range of management tools available for the typical New Zealand farming operation.


‘There has been considerable discussion among industry groups about the need for a specific carbon calculator for farmers, but to our knowledge none have made it into the public domain,’ said Prof Saunders.


‘This is a tool which, for the first time, allows farmers on a range of properties to easily calculate their farm’s CO2 footprint, to set a benchmark and to set targets that they can monitor from year to year.’


The calculator can be found at http://www.lincoln.ac.nz/carboncalculator/