Claiming to represent the ‘holy grail’ in determining the true value of farm output, land use practices, embedded carbon and nature, Trinity AgTech, which developed the system known as Sandy, hopes it will give farmers robust backing when dealing with supply chain partners and investors.
“Up until recently farmers tended to gain their income either through growing crops or producing livestock,” said Richard Williamson, senior managing director with Trinity AgTech, “but now and in the future the industry will have to look to far more income streams.”
With an eye towards the demands from both governments and retailers for the industry to meet biodiversity and carbon footprint targets, he said this meant that there was a need to be able to reliably measure these services in order to back up claims of sustainability.
And while he said that the package allowed all these factors to be assessed and recorded, there was an equal focus on the physical and financial performance which was the keystone of any successful business.
“The industry has many badges just now – and you can belong to the regenerative movement, the organic movement or any of the other plethora of groups jostling to be accepted. But using a measuring scheme which is backed by scientific evidence can offer real answers to tensions within the industry.”
Williamson added that with huge consolidation both upstream and downstream from farming, the industry was being squeezed in the middle, with large companies stripping out and claiming much of the value added by farmers for themselves.
“However, by verifying many of the benefits offered by farmers, not only does this allow customers to appreciate them, it also allows farmers to retain provenance and show that they are the ones providing the services which improve the environment and help mitigate climate change.”
Dr Alisdair Sykes, chief scientific officer with the company, explained that Sandy was a fully integrated product which covered both sustainability and productivity and which could import data from existing farm software packages.
With a background with SRUC, where he helped develop the widely used AgreCalc carbon auditing tool, Sykes said the Sandy software went beyond annual audits and would also allow producers to assess performance in real time - and also model how management changes would influence a farm’s journey to net zero.
Annual subscription for the system, which will be commercially available from July 1, will start at £1000 - with the average likely to be around £1500.
Dr Hosein Khajeh-Hosseiny, founder and executive chairman, said the group had created Sandy in consultation with the UK and devolved governments as well as farming groups across the country.