Knowledge for Development

The challenge of measuring performance of agricultural conservation and environmental programmes


Date: 02/07/2013


This report commissioned by AGree summarises conceptual and methodological challenges of measuring the environmental performance of agriculture. The authors acknowledge that there is no comprehensive, widely accepted index or assessment tool which considers all the related factors concerning the impact of agricultural operations, practices and systems on defined environmental goals for water, wetlands restoration, and native species among others. 

Different types of performance measures and approaches are reviewed to identify best practices and enhance understanding of the ways in which agricultural and environmental policy might be assessed and strengthened. One main recommendation is that it may be beneficial to engage farmers and ranchers early in the collection and interpretation of data. While it is emphasised that agricultural and environmental policies have distinct purposes, the authors conclude that neither should be pursued in isolation. They conclude that aligning agricultural production with improved environmental outcomes at the landscape scale is a long-term goal achieved through collaboration among various agencies and levels of government, producers, researchers, private companies and civil society.  

 (AGree, 01/04/2013)

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