Using RISE software to assess the sustainability of farms and inputs

RISE (Reponse-Inducing Sustainability Evaluation) is an international software-based evaluation tool used to assess the sustainability of farms in terms of economic, social and environmental factors. It requires in-depth interviews with farmers and can have an important advisory purpose. Once information is fed into RISE, an action plan is made by the farm advisor and farmer, usually with a time scheme for certain dedicated management changes to improve the sustainability of the farm. Contentious inputs that could have a negative impact on the environment, farmers’ health, product quality, animal welfare (or any other of the 10 themes that are assessed in RISE) will have a negative influence on the score given.

Erica Montemayor from IRTA carrying out a RISE interview with a vegetable farmer in Spain

RISE is a holistic tool, validating all themes and parameters in one evaluation, meaning that it is possible to see the influence of individual indicators on the whole system. Farm are incredibly complex; it is not possible to isolate an individual issue and think this is not a part of the whole. Therefore, RISE is an important tool, which gives farmers a good overview of what is working well and what could be improved. To make an analysis will typically cost the farmer 2000 euros, which can of course be a barrier. However, since 2016, more than 300 farmers in Denmark have been through the process, as sustainability, (environmental, social and economic) is important for both them and their customers.

The Organic-PLUS project is using RISE assessments in a number of countries as part of its development and evaluation of alternatives to contentious inputs in organic agriculture. One particular example we are examining is the use of animal manures from non-organic farms for crop fertilisation, with vegan organic (veganic) cultivation methods proposed as an alternative. Dennis Touliatos from UK partner Coventry University will carry out RISE interviews with veganic farmers in England to test and validate the proposed methodologies. It will be interesting to see how the socio-economic and ecological outcomes of the RISE models of veganic farms will compare with traditional organic practice.

Frank Oudshoorn and Dennis Touliatos

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