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For more generic questions, please see below.
The Cool Farm Tool functions as a greenhouse gas (GHG) calculator designed specifically for the farm level, focusing on emissions arising from agricultural production of specific products, whether they are crops or livestock.
The GHG Protocol classifies emissions into three distinct scopes:
The Cool Farm Tool primarily adopts the scope 3 approach for various aspects, including fertilizers, pesticides, and transportation of goods to and from the farm. We generally recommend a cradle-to-farm-gate approach. However, there are specific areas that are either partially covered, such as seed production (limited to potatoes), or not covered at all, such as the production of machinery or infrastructure. These exclusions are deliberate to simplify the use of the Cool Farm Tool and because emissions from these areas typically have a minor impact on the overall result. However, we acknowledge that in some scenarios, these omissions can represent significant emissions, and we are actively working to address these gaps as part of our GHG protocol consistency project. For more information on our ongoing efforts, please visit this link.
The tool is set up to represent one specific farm and its related location and climate. CFA members can enable a feature that allows to create multiple farms in one account so you can easily switch between them and have assessments in one place. If you are not a member and need to register data from several farms in different regions/countries, consider creating different accounts to reflect the differences in climate. You can also use one test assessment as baseline and see how changing the location and climate in the farm settings under your username actually affect the final results. If the difference is not big enough, it is your decision whether to create different accounts or to make all assessments in one account deciding on one representative location.
Yes, you can copy the data of an existing assessment by clicking on “save as” at the end of any tab of the assessments’ pathway. This allows you to save the whole assessment under a new name and change the data as needed.
This provides you with the opportunity to complete subsequent assessments based on the first assessment without having to re-enter all the information. It also provides the opportunity for scenario and what-if modelling to explore the impact of potential practice changes.
If you have previously registered an account in the Cool Farm Tool but forgotten your password, you can simply go to https://app.coolfarmtool.org/, and click on “forgot password”. Follow the instructions you receive via mail (check your Junk & Spam folders).
Please note that an email address can only be used once for registration. Every additional account in the Cool Farm Tool needs a new email address.
In the app.coolfarmtool.org at the end of the help ? page you can find the API documentation that explains in details how to setup the API connection. Member API users have a demo tool at their disposal to test the endpoints of the connection.
The issuing of the API app key is a benefit of the membership with the CFA. For this, we need a user account that will be linked to the API key. This account has the second key (User API key), visible at the end of the help page, which provides together with app key and the API documentation all you need to set up a connection with the CFT.
Yes, the Cool Farm Alliance is a community of members working together to develop and use a common Tool, and to share knowledge on its use in supply chains. We have a member-only forum in our learning portal for peer-to-peer exchange. The Alliance meets regularly, and has internal technical working groups and committees to tackle shared challenges and jointly drive the development of the tool. Please join the discussion and support the mission.
The Cool Farm Alliance welcomes discussions on enhancing the existing methodology within the Cool Farm Tool. The foundation of the Cool Farm Tool relies entirely on peer-reviewed empirical research, drawing from a diverse array of published data sets and IPCC methods. Therefore, it is essential that any input into the Cool Farm Tool is supported by robust evidence, demonstrating its superiority over the current approach. This typically involves scientific review studies, such as meta-analyses, which showcase the effectiveness of a methodology across a wide spectrum of contexts.
After our update to CFT 1.0 in February 2022, we are using the Global Warming Potentials for methane and nitrous oxide from the IPCC Assessment Report 6.
The CFT crop and cattle pathways are aligned with IPCC 2019, and the cattle pathways are aligned to IDF 2022 recommendations. We use a variety of tier 1 and 2 methods, For example, Soil Organic Carbon follows IPCC 2019 tier 1 guidelines and is a refined tier 1 model. The calculation of N2O emissions associated with applications of fertilisers follow Tier 1 method from IPCC 2019, using disaggregated factors. Indirect emissions use a combination of Tier 1 and 2 calculations. For further detail please refer to our Technical Description within the tool.
Generally speaking, the CFA seeks to be aligned with various standards and protocols in terms of scope and boundaries, but does not seek to be necessarily ‘compliant’ to those standards. This is because the CFT is agnostic of standards per se, as they are in some areas conflicting.
The CFT can support your assessment following the Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard (GHG Protocol for products) as well as other GHG protocol standards. It can be part of an LCA study as being used to determine the global warming impact category and in either consequential or attributional LCA studies. It is however not an LCA tool and does not replace a full assessment, which also includes a scope definition, uncertainty assessment, and reporting. A few members use the Cool Farm Tool for reporting to the Science Based Targets initiative for their agricultural raw materials.
The Cool Farm Tool is aligned to the International Dairy Federation global carbon footprint standard for the dairy sector (2022).
We are currently not yet certified to PAS2050 and ISO 14067:2018.
We have a live project adding and updating methods in 2024, to ensure that the tool is consistent with GHG protocol land-sector removal guidance and the scope 3 standard. See here.
The Cool Farm Tool is intended to help farmers choose management options that improve their environmental performance and to track and measure improvement over time.
Results can be used as part of companies SBTi reporting commitments.
For consumer facing labels or claims, a full LCA would be needed of which the tool can contribute data towards, however tool results would require third party verification. See question below [add hyperlink] for more information.
The Cool Farm Tool currently stores user data to manage user accounts, as well as farm assessment data entered into the tool in order to calculate assessments. We currently do not store assessment results, these are dynamically calculated and presented when a user accesses an assessment. This also applies for the API when only used for calculating results. However, in case the API is used to push data into the tool, the data will be stored as assessments.
The data within the Cool Farm Tool is currently stored on OVH data servers in London (UK), and is managed in compliance with the following standards:
Please find further information at https://www.ovh.com/world/us/about-us/datacenters.xml
In the future, we hope to store results to improve user experience within the CFT, including benchmarks and improved scaling for the tool.
User data is held privately within each user account, and is not accessible to other users. Users are the owner of their data, but have an option to share assessments in the system using a members-only “share code”. The Cool Farm Alliance doesn’t own assessment data nor any personal data. These are only used to provide our service and for support activities.
Your completed footprint is private and not visible to any other tool user, unless you wish to share it with a third party which requires active steps using a ‘share code’. If you do not want that your assessment data is linked to you and stay anonymous, you need to check with your customer (share code owner) if the privacy of your name is preserved when the data is exported (farm name can be activated or disactivated upon request).
You can duplicate an assessment via the “save as” button in the pathway, change certain values and use the compare function in the results tab to create “what-if” scenarios that shows how your GHG footprint can be improved by implementing more sustainable practices, e.g. applying different quantities of nutrients; how sequestration can be improved with soil (non) tilling and cover cropping practices; how improved herd and feed management lowers your footprint per kg of product.
The tool creates a default name by crop and by year, but allows you to overwrite it. The naming convention depends on what you’re measuring, and how you keep your records. Many growers choose to enter by crop, field and year. When sharing your assessment with others, add or exclude sensitive data such as farm name so the assessment can be linked to your or stays anonymous.
The Cool Farm Tool is free for farmers who have 5 free assessments they can change and adjust to evaluate their products. Organisations that use the Tool for their business activities become Cool Farm Alliance members and pay to help build literacy and understanding about the relationship between agriculture and climate change mitigation throughout the industry. The memberships fees enable us to operate and further develop the Tool – find out more at Join the Alliance and in our End User Licence Agreement.
Data aggregation is a member-only feature and is handled through “share codes”. Cool Farm Alliance members can have one or more share codes. Customers give these codes to their farmer-suppliers, who upon completing their crop footprint can send their data with this share code by clicking on “share” on the top right of an assessment. This process enables the owner of the share code (normally the supply chain customer) to see all of the datasets sent using the share code. They can export the data in a excel report and analyse it in detail.
The greenhouse gas metric works on a per-product basis, whereas in contrast the biodiversity metric is for whole-farm. A whole-farm assessment is a GHG emission inventory considering all aspects that may influence the overall footprint of a farm/business including arable land etc., while the current CFT does a product carbon footprint. E.g. forest areas belonging to the farm may have an impact on the company’s carbon footprint, but will not impact the product carbon footprint itself (also GHG Protocol standards differentiate between company and product footprints).
We recognise the potential benefits that exist from taking a whole farm perspective, but these are not readily modelled to allow simple user data entry. However, the Tool does already account for cover crops used in rotation, as well as factors such as land use change and trees on the land.
Drop-down lists in the tool simplify data entry. Here is a list of questions for crop products that may require preparation in advance: Harvested yield and marketable yield product weights, Growing area, Fertiliser applications: type and rate, rate & active ingredient of pesticide applications, Energy use (kWh and fuel use) and (optionally) transport: mode, weight of product and distance. For livestock, calculations are built from herd size, manure management, grazing time, feed and energy use.
Please see attached a PDF document listing data entry requirements for each assessment type.Data requirements
The group code is entered under the tab “my projects” and activates certain member-only features such as data export unlimited assessments. If you think you should have access to member-only features, contact your buyer or check with the Cool Farm Alliance team to make sure your customer is a member. As member, you can share the code with your project group within or outside your company. The functionalities associated to a group code can be:
a. Sets the limit number of assessments above the free five assessments.
b. Export: provides the ability to export results of your made assessments as Excel file.
c. Supplier Section: Functionality to share specific information and documents with your suppliers on a ‘landing page’. Only those with the relevant group code can see the information, by clicking on the code under ‘my projects’.
d. Custom fertiliser production (for advanced users only): the ability to add a fertiliser with its own embedded production emissions value, rather than using one of the standard values in the CFT.
Register an account in the Cool Farm Tool. which allows you to make up to 5 free assessments that you can change and adjust. You need to active your account via the link you will receive in a separate email (please check your junk folder). Once logged in, fill out your farm settings. You can register for the free CFT E-Learning Course that helps you to set up the account and navigate through the system. Also, use the info buttons in the tool to guide you through the assessments.
Members of the Cool Farm Alliance have different access benefits that can be added to an account by entering the organisations’ group code. This can be entered in the “my projects” tab. Please ask the contact in your organisation responsible for Cool Farm Alliance matters to share the group code with you.
Not yet. We recognise how valuable this would be and are collecting the data necessary to provide this. We need to ensure we have sufficient good quality data before building this into the tool and are setting up a data ethics framework to also assure the responsible use of data. This is on our members’ ‘wish list’ for the future. We suggest to look for available regional or national GHG analysis published by the government or institutions of your country.
It takes just 10 -15 minutes to get a rough estimate of your carbon footprint by entering information off the top of your head. To refine this estimate using information from farm records can take longer, about 30-60 minutes, but this will become easier and more efficient with each new assessment. Often the most time consuming part is looking up and estimating the exact kWh and fuel for the given crop from all your electricity and fuel bills. After completion, you may also wish to spend some time exploring options for reducing GHG emissions and making a plan.
The water module is only available for a range of crops in the tool:
Alfalfa, Barley, Coffee, Cotton, Dry Bean, Maize, Millet, Oats, Other grain, Other legume, Other N-fixing forage, Other Non-N-fixing forage, Peanut, Perennial grass, Potato, Rice, Rye, Sorghum, Soyabean, Spring wheat, Tomato, Vegetable, Winter wheat
It is not available for the following:
Apple, Canola, Clover, Grass-clover mix, Hops, Rapeseed, Tea, Tree Crop, Blueberry, Raspberry, Strawberry, Other, Other root crops, Other tuber crop
Therefore you can only make a combined GHG & Water as
The Cool Farm Tool does not require any information on irrigation if no irrigation is applied. For rainfed agriculture, the tool will estimate water use, water footprints and water use efficiency based on precipitation only. Therefore, you will only see a green water footprint on the result page.
Like the carbon tool, we do not run a crop growth model to simulate the effect of different management interventions on crop production. To understand the full effect of different management on water footprints and water use efficiency please make adjustments to yield as well using your experience or other models.
The number represents gross irrigation divided by crop water requirements. This describes how much of the crop requirements are supplied by irrigation. Therefore, the lower the number the less irrigation water-dependent is your production. However, depending on precipitation this number can either be good or bad. If you don’t irrigate sufficiently and precipitation is also not enough you might have a big water yield gap.
There are other definitions that describe irrigation efficiency and are currently being explored.
In most cases, the numbers on the result page add up to the same value. However, due to the rounding of the values, the numbers might be slightly different.
This depends on the scope you have defined for your assessments. Do you want to determine the emissions till the farm gate or e.g. till processor? Livestock feed, compost or other heavy inputs transported to the farm and used in production should be included.
For fertilisers, the tool does not automatically include transport emissions, as the location of production is often not known. Good practice, however, may be to also include the transport from your direct supplier. For feed items, the data includes transport from point of production to the Netherlands using a global average. You may want to include the transport from your direct supplier to your farm, which would provide a good estimate for feed items.
Both the main crop and the cover crop (e.g. grass cover) are sold or used (e.g. as feed) and thus need to be modelled in separate assessments. As the cover crop is added prior to the main crop and provides roots in the ground that would otherwise be bare, tick the cover crop box for the main crop, but not in the assessment of the cover crop to ensure that you are not double counting.
No, dead animals should not be included under sold animals, as otherwise the GHG footprint would be underestimated. Dead animals did consume feed and emit GHG emissions during their live, but are not producing meat, because dead animals are not used for consumption but incinerated. If they would be included under sold animals, more of the emissions would be allocated to that part and the footprint of milk/meat would be too low. Improved herd management with less dead animals is in that way also a mitigation option, as the overall footprint will be lower because more milk/meat is produced with the same inputs.
You do not need to have any data on biodiversity at hand, but you need knowledge of the practices you implement on your farm and the sizes of areas that are not in production or managed as conservation area for biodiversity. The tool asks you about each practice you employ and gives you a score from which you can see which species groups are benefiting from your practices.
The Cool Farm Tool Biodiversity metric allows farmers to score points for the good practices they are implementing. This is a way for them to demonstrate the good they are doing and gain recognition for this. The tool boils complexity into a series of multiple choice questions that help you quantify baseline impacts on biodiversity, and measure and track improvements over time. As buyers continue to want more transparency and evidence of good practice, the biodiversity score give you a way to provide this.