The EFA calculator : A software tool to support farmers decisions on Ecological Focus Areas
Farming has a central role to play in the delivery of a number of desirable ecosystem services and the enhancement of biodiversity. However, despite the fact that that there has been significant emphasis placed on environment and biodiversity in policy over the years, it is generally accepted that there is still some way to go if the industry is to deliver what is expected of it in this regard. It is hoped that the introduction of Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) on the farm will aid in delivering tangible environmental improvements, but this is to some extent dependent on the EFA elements a farmer selects, and their appropriateness to the local environment. Consequently, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) funded and coordinated a project to develop a tool which will help farmers select EFA elements that can deliver the optimal environmental benefit. The aim of this project was to develop a software application for European farmers and advisory services. The software firstly helps farmers calculate the contribution of different EFA elements to their 5% target. Secondly, it takes into account the farms site specific characteristics and assesses the contribution of EFA elements to biodiversity and a range of ecosystem services. This will help ensure that the EFA elements selected by a farmer offer optimal benefits in terms of ecosystem services and biodiversity and are pragmatic in terms of farm management.