GFMrt - Global Farm Metrics research tool

GFMrt - Global Farm Metric research tool

The term ‘sustainability’ means different things to different people - a common language is needed to support measuring, understanding and communicating farm sustainability as the basis of the food system. Since 2020, we have been working with the Sustainable Food Trust to develop a common framework to define and measure whole-farm sustainability, the Global Farm Metric. From initial work developing and testing a sustainability self-assessment in a co-design process with the SFT farmers working group, the Global Farm Metric has grown into a coalition of other 80 partners, from farmers through to food companies, financial services and government. 

The Framework covers 11 categories relating to sustainability, and within each category, indicators are measured to identify the impacts and unintended consequences of a farm with the aim of promoting change to improve environmental, social and economic outcomes.

We have been involved from the early stages, in the initial development of an excel-based self-assessment (ELMS Sustainability Assessment, ELSA), including researching and identifying indicators and data points through to on-farm trials. Working with the Organic Association of Kentucky, we have supported the translation of the original UK-focused assessment into a US-adapted version. As the GFM has evolved, we have contributed to more in-depth research into the Biodiversity category, including a Delphi study, and collaborated on the development of subsequent iterations of the Framework. As part of the development to make the assessment more user-friendly and robust, we transformed the excel version into an online tool.

The GFM framework is still evolving, and this online tool (Feb 2023) might be outdated in its contents. Nevertheless, despite being developed for research purposes and testing, it is a good tool for a farmer's self-assessment to monitor the farming system and to compare sustainability of changing farming practices. 

As a research tool, we are open to collaborate in further research projects needing similar architecture and user interface. Either developing new avenues for the GFMrt, e.g. widening its applicability to other countries or just focusing on certain categories or providing a different lens to the usage of the concept. We are happy to contribute not only with the architecture, design and user interface, but also with the scientific background (modelling) of the decision process/scoring of the backend. 

Other examples of a similar concept and user interface experience (e.g. form collecting data and showing scores depending on answers), can be found in the online version of PG-Tool   and the Resiliency Self-Assessment tool