A Novel Technique for Identifying Environmental Outcomes from Agricultural Practices
There are a wide range of techniques that can be used for evaluating environmental impacts of agriculture, but they have not previously been used to identify the contribution individual farming activities make toward environmental outcomes or for prioritising activities to ensure maximum benefits. This paper reports a novel technique for identifying how different activities influence environmental outcomes. The methodology is based upon traditional EIA techniques. Knowledge is collated from documented evidence and structured within a database such that the causal processes by which different activities influence outcomes can be identified. Cause and effect chains are created and each link is weighted according to the strength of the relationship between the two components. The entire cause-effect chain assumes the weighting of the weakest link. This is used to identify the strengths and weakness of individual practices or groups of activities. This paper explains the process using examples from agricultural production and policy in the UK and Europe for illustration.