Assessing agro-ecological practices using a combination of three sustainability assessment tools

Jan Landert*, Catherine Pfeifer, Johannes Carolus, Gerald Schwarz, Fabrizio Albanito, Adrian Muller, Pete Smith, Juern Sanders, Christian Schader, Francesco Vanni, Jaroslav Prazan, Lukas Baumgart, Johan Blockeel, Rainer Weisshaidinger, Ruth Bartel-Kratochvil, Alexander Hollaus, Andreas Mayer, Andrea Hrabalova, Janne Helin, Jyrki AakkulaKristina Svels, Emmanuel Guisepelli, Alexandra Smyrniotopoulou, George Vlahos, Yiannis Iordanidis, Alfred Szilagyi, Laszlo Podmaniczky, Katalin Balazs, Francesco Galioto, Davide Longhitano, Letizia Rossignolo, Andrea Povellato, Andis Zilans, Grazvy-das Jegelevicius, Mihaela Fratila, Uxue Iragui Yoldi, Carlos Astrain Massa, Jon Bienzobas Adrian, Kajsa Resare Sahlin, Elin Roos, Rebekka Frick, Richard Bircher, Inge Aalders, Katherine N. Irvine, Carol Kyle, David Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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The alignment of the environmental, economic and social sustainability of farms is necessary for enhancing the provision of public goods in farming. This study combines the use of three tools for the assessment of farm sustainability. It provides first insights into the sustainability performance of farms at different stages of agro-ecological transitions in 15 case studies covering a range of different farming systems across Europe. Each case study reflects a different-transition towards agro-ecological farming. The tools applied were COMPAS (an economic farm assessment tool); Cool Farm Tool (a greenhouse gas inventory, water footprint and biodiversity assessment tool); and the SMART Farm Tool (a multidimensional sustainability assessment tool).

First results of the use of combined sustainability assessments deepen the understanding of different farming systems. Sustainability performance varies greatly between farms, but overall, agro-ecological farms tend to enhance biodiversity and water quality. For soil quality, no clear patterns could be identified. The same applies to economic performance at different stages of the agro-ecological transition. Quality of life was generally rated medium to high on all investigated farms. The combined sustainability assessment enabled the identification of areas for further policy development.

Aligning the tools required harmonising definitions, simplification and assumptions with regard to the input data of the tools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-144
Number of pages16
JournalLandbauforschung-Journal of sustainable and organic agricultural systems
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

This paper is based on results from the research project UNISECO, which is funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 773901.We would like to thank all the farmers, farm organisations and stakeholders of the multi-actor platforms of the UNISECO project who contributed to the data collection. We also like to thank Andreas Basler whose corrections improved the comprehensibility of the paper.


  • agro-ecology
  • agro-ecological farming practices
  • sustainability assessment tools
  • SMART Farm Tool (RRID:SCR_018197)
  • Cool Farm Tool
  • CROP


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