Review of GHG tools in agriculture

In order to facilitate the different activities of targeting climate change mitigation in agriculture, decision makers can today choose from a wider range of available GHG tools. These tools follow different main objectives that are again reflected in different data needs, geographical scope, coverage along the value chain as well as regional and sub-sector specificity. Each tool is characterized by certain competitive advantages and is often the first methodological choice in regards to its own field of specialization.

In order to facilitate a better informed tool selection, IRD, ADEME and FAO have build upon the outcome of the AgER project (Carbon-Balance: Agriculture at the Regional Scale) and the on this page available studies from Colomb et al. (2012, 2013) by providing a multi-criteria GHG tool selector.

This interactive website considers 18 GHG calculators (c.f. Colomb et al., 2012) and allows users to specify the main preferences for their analysis using the  criteria:

  • Region of analysis
  • Aim of analysis
  • Speed and ease of use
  • Scope of the assessment:
      - By activity
      - By emission source

Based on these specifications the website then lists the set of best fitting tools on the bottom of the page. By clicking on each GHG tool, users are subsequently provided with detailed information and weblinks. Access the tool from the download section on the right or by clicking on the image.

The AgER project: Comparison of available GHG calculators

To develop improved agriculture strategies and policies, and to analyze current situations, it is necessary to be able to quickly quantify the GHG emissions of different scenarios, illustrating the possible evolution of agricultural practices, at the farm and country level.

Starting in 2011 FAO, IRD and ADEME engaged in the joint AgER project (Carbon balance: Agriculture at the Regional Scale) that systematically compared GHG tools in agriculture.

The project compared 18 GHG calculators and tools in the agriculture and forestry sector, at farm, regional and country level. The results of the analysis are presented in the here available study from Colomb et al. (2012) and the related work from Colomb et al. (2013). The main outcomes were also presented at Rio+20.

Main results are that:

  • Most tools have with the Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories from the IPCC the same methodological background (IPCC, 2006)
  • Tools strongly differ concerning the type of emission sources that are considered as well as the amount and combination of agricultural practices and activities that can be accommodated in the tools. Also there are differences concerning the main aim of the analysis and the scale on which the tools can be used.

The graph below compares the 18 tools instead concerning their characteristics to be easy to use also without advanced bio-chemical expert knowledge and the speed of the analysis. You may find the main project outputs in the download section on the right.