Fieldprint Calculator Information

Topics


What is a "fieldprint"?

A "fieldprint" is the ratio of output to input, or an estimate of the impact an input has on an output. Assuming a given output, a smaller input means a smaller footprint and greater sustainability because fewer resources are needed to realize the same end result.

The Fieldprint Calculator is a simple tool designed to help you begin to look at how your crop production operations impact the sustainability of your farm. It provides general information based on the practices that are mostly likely to influence your energy use, climate impact, soil loss, and water use. After completing the questions, you can quickly assess whether your fieldprint value is smaller or greater than county, state and national averages. Furthermore, by selecting different answers to the same questions, you can see the movement in your fieldprint blue triangle relative to the static state and national orange triangles. The selection of a set of answers is a "scenario," which represents the "what ifs" in your management choices. We encourage you to try different scenarios, so that you can observe how management decisions made across all resources affect your sustainability.

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What is the intent of the Fieldprint Calculator?

The Fieldprint Calculator is meant to be an educational resource to get growers thinking about their operations and how their practices relate to natural resource management and sustainability. It will not provide you with a precise evaluation, but allow you to generally benchmark your performance against county, state and national averages. It also helps you to look at different scenarios of practices and see how those changes may affect your overall outcomes.

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What is new for Fieldprint Calculator 2.0?

The most recent version of the calculator offers a host of upgrades, including more sophisticated calculations based on the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) RUSLE2 model, the ability to save field information, a qualitative soil carbon metric, enterprise budgeting, a mapping function to locate your field and populate basic field data, county-level benchmarks, inclusion of rice, and inclusion of new options for crops and rotations.

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How are privacy issues addressed for the Fieldprint Calculator?

When logging into the calculator, you have two options. You can login as a guest user to test the calculator without saving any data, or you can register to create and account so that your data is securely and confidentially saved for future sessions. Whether using the Calculator as a guest or creating a username and password to save your information, your personal data and results are for your use only and are not shared with any third party unless you specifically agree to a data-sharing option. Basic site usage data – including the number of users and their geographic location (by State) is reported to Field to Market and may be used and shared by Field to Market to track Fieldprint Calculator use and for other purposes. Aggregate level production information and overall results (such as information regarding management practices and results by crop type and county) may be collected and reported to Field to Market. Such aggregate level information will not identify individual farm operations or results and may be used and shared by Field to Market to improve and develop sustainability assessment tools and to promote the understanding and adoption of sustainability. Individual personal and production information, including specific farm location, management practices, and Fieldprint results, is not reported and will not be used or shared.For more information, read our Privacy Policy.

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How does the Fieldprint Calculator work?

The calculator was deliberately kept simple to provide you with an introduction to the various resource areas that affect sustainability in crop production. The goal of this calculator is not to provide precise numbers but rather ballpark values to help you become aware of how your practice decisions affect sustainable production. Through a question and answer format, you can explore "scenarios" of decision making and see how your choices impact your fieldprint, or sustainability.

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How is the Fieldprint Calculator organized?

Fieldprint Calculator 2.0 is organized under resource area modules:

  • Land Use
  • Soil Loss
  • Soil Carbon
  • Irrigation Water Use
  • Energy Use
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions

These modules correspond with the five areas explored in the Field to Market Environmental Indicators Report.

In addition, Fieldprint Calculator 2.0 allows you to conduct economic analysis to see the relationship between sustainability outcomes and management costs.

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How do you determine a "fieldprint"?

In the Start Tab, you will locate your field and select answers to questions about your soil, crop rotation, and management systems. Your fieldprint for each indicator is determined by dividing your "resource use/impact" by your crop productivity or yield (or "productivity indicator").

After you submit all of your information on the Start Tab, yourfieldprints (one for each resource) are computed from your answers and are displayed on resource slider bars. The fieldprints are scaled as numbers from 0 to 100 on the appropriate bars with zero representing more sustainable outcomes and 100 representing less sustainable outcomes for a particular resource area. For comparison purposes, you can select either a county, state or national average for display on the same indicator bars. Your fieldprints are depicted as a blue triangle along the bar, while the state and national averages are depicted in orange. The centerline (50) represents the national average for each resource area.

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How do I compare scenarios?

On the Land Use, Soil Conservation, Soil Carbon, Irrigation Water Use, Energy Use, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Tabs, you can test scenarios by changing the management practice information that you entered in the Start Tab. Only the questions from the start tab that influence your fieldprint for that particular resource area are shown. After changing your responses and hitting “calculate,” a new scenario will be shown below your Base Scenario (which was calculated from your original responses on the Start Tab). That new scenario will change the position of the slider bar for that resource metric. You can then compare the new scenario to your Base Scenario. You can create multiple scenarios; the last scenario to be calculated will be the one displayed on the slider bar for that tab. You can also delete the new scenarios. When you go to a new resource tab, the slider bars will reset to the Base Scenario.

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What is a spidergram?

The spidergram is a graphical representation of your results for each resource covered in the tool. Each individual resource area is graphed on its own axis, and the points of the spidergram are the values for each area. The axes on which the values are plotted represent relative values within each resource, not the absolute values (e.g. amount of energy per bushel, etc.). These actual values are provided on the final summary report and also within the Base Scenario. As you move out from the center of the spidergram along an axis, efficiency decreases. In other words, the smaller the spidergram, the higher the efficiency.

By connecting the points on the graph together you get a footprint or fieldprint. The higher the efficiency, the smaller the total area of the fieldprint. If your personal spidergram is smaller than the state or national average, then you are more efficient than these averages. If it is larger, you are less efficient. It may be larger for some resources and smaller for others. This may help you identify areas to focus on.

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How is land use evaluated?

The Land Use Resource metric accounts for the total land area used to produce a crop. The Land Use Resource Fieldprint has units of land area per unit of production, such as acres per bushel in the case of corn. Like all metrics, the Fieldprint is economically allocated for crops having co-products or bi-products.

“Total” land use includes any practice that impacts the land intended for production in a given crop rotation year. Practices could include abandonment, double-cropping, green-manure, or fallow acreage.

The Land Use Resource metric requires a user to enter under the “Start” tab either an irrigated or non-irrigated yield for a previously named and bounded field along with any land use practices for a crop rotation year.

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How is soil loss evaluated?

The Soil Conservation Resource metric accounts for the soil water and wind erosion associated with crop production practices. The Soil Conservation Resource Fieldprint combines soil losses due to water and wind; it has units of soil loss in weight per year per unit of production, such as tons per year per bushel in the case of corn. Like all metrics, the Fieldprint is economically allocated for crops having co-products or bi-products.

The Soil Conservation Resource metric is derived from the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation 2 (RUSLE2) model and the Wind Erosion Prediction System 1.0 (WEPS 1.0). Field characteristics, such as slope, slope length, soil texture, and soil erodibility coupled with crop management practices, such as tillage, and support practices, such as terraces, all impact the soil losses according local climate conditions.

The Soil Conservation Resource metric requires a user to select field characteristics, confirm the existence of any drainage or wind barriers, and select the appropriate tillage and crop management systems under the “Start” tab. User selections along with soil and climate data based on a field location are input into RUSLE2 and WEPS 1.0 models. The models return soil losses due to water and wind. The RUSLE2 model also returns a tolerable (T) soil loss due to water.

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How is soil carbon evaluated?

The Soil Carbon Resource metric accounts for the role soil carbon plays in crop production. Previously soil carbon was included in the total greenhouse gas balance. Due to the difficulty in quantifying change in soil carbon as well as its importance in other areas such as water infiltration and soil productivity, it is now considered a separate metric of its own.

The Soil Carbon Resource is an underdeveloped metric in version 2.0 of the Calculator. As such, it is quantified using a relative measure called the “Soil Conditioning Index” or “SCI.” The Soil Carbon Resource Fieldprint is bounded by +1 and -1 and is not specific to a crop. A value between -.05 to +.05 is considered to represent zero or no change in soil carbon. As the value moves in the positive or negative direction away from zero, the magnitude of the number can be interpreted as confidence in the fact that soil carbon is either being added or removed from the soil, but nothing can be said about the rate of change.

The “SCI” is a function of organic matter added to the soil, field operations, and soil erosion rates.

The SCI, being an output of the RUSLE2 model, requires the same user selections under the “Start” tab and the same soil and climate databases as for the Soil Conservation Resource metric.

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How is irrigated water use evaluated?

The Irrigation Water Use Resource metric accounts for the increase in yield due to the application of water on a crop. The Irrigation Water Use Resource Fieldprint is in units of volume of water per unit of increased production above the non-irrigated production estimate, such as acre-in of water applied per bushel in the case of corn. Like all metrics, the Fieldprint is economically allocated for crops having co-products or bi-products.

Irrigated water as a resource both increases the yield of a crop and adds to the energy and greenhouse gas budgets to grow a crop. Energy and carbon dioxide are expended/emitted in pumping of water from the source to its application on a field.

The Irrigation Water Use Resource metric is calculated from irrigated and non-irrigated yields entered by a user under the “Start” tab. These entered yields are for fields with irrigation as opposed to fields without irrigation in the Land Use Resource metric.

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How is energy use evaluated?

The Energy Use Resource metric accounts for the total (direct and embedded) energy in crop production. The Energy Use Resource Fieldprint is in units of energy amount per unit of production, such as BTU per bushel in the case of corn. Like all metrics, the Fieldprint is economically allocated for crops having co-products or bi-products.

The Energy Use Resource consists of direct and embedded energy subtotals. The direct energy subtotal includes tillage and equipment operation, manure application, irrigation systems, transportation, and drying. The embedded energy subtotal includes seed, fertilizer and lime, and crop protectants. The direct energy values for tillage and equipment operation and manure application are from the RUSLE2 model, while irrigation systems, transportation, and drying are calculated from published formulations that require user entries. The embedded energies for seed and crop protectants are calculated, while the energy for fertilizer and lime is from the “Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET)” model.

The Energy Use Resource metric is calculated from selections made and data entered by a user under the “Start” tab. Where appropriate for direct energy, user selections and entered values are submitted as input to the RUSLE2 model.

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How are greenhouse gas emissions evaluated?

The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Resource metric accounts for the total (direct and embedded) greenhouse gas emissions in crop production. The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Resource Fieldprint is in units of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standard per unit of production, such as carbon dioxide equivalents per bushel in the case of corn. Like all metrics, the Fieldprint is economically allocated for crops having co-products or bi-products.

Like the Energy Use Resource, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Resource consists of direct and embedded GHG emissions subtotals. The direct GHG emission subtotal includes tillage and equipment operation, manure application, transportation, drying and burning crop residue. The embedded GHG emission subtotal includes seed, fertilizer and lime, and crop protectants. It also includes, in the case of rice production, carbon dioxide equivalents due to nitrous oxide and methane. The direct GHG emission values for tillage and equipment operation, manure application, drying, and transportation, are derived from energy amounts, while burning crop residue is based on an EPA derivation. The embedded GHG emission values for seed and crop protectants are calculated, while the emissions for fertilizer and lime are from (GREET) model. The embedded GHG emissions for nitrous oxide and methane in rice production are from an EPA formulation.

The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Resource metric is calculated from selections made and data entered by a user under the “Start” tab.

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Will there be future updates to the Fieldprint Calculator?

Agricultural sustainability is complex topic involving numerous factors. As a result,we will continue to add information and functionality to the tool as the science evaluating the relationship between agricultural practices and environmental outcomes continues to evolve. Also, the calculator is incomplete as it does not have metrics to reflect the impact different practices have on water quality or biodiversity, and we will continue to develop new metrics and add additional crops.

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Can I see Field to Market's national report?

The first report of the Field to Market Alliance provides the basis for this calculator and the first sets of indicators to be included. Field to Market continues to work on methodologies for additional indicators, such as water quality, biodiversity, and socio-economics, which will be included in future versions of the Calculator. Click here to see the first report.

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My question was not listed here, where do I go now?

For additional information about the Field to Market Alliance, including a list of members, our foundational principles, and other outcomes of the effort, please click here.

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Field to Market National Report

This 2012 report presents environmental and socioeconomic indicators for measuring outcomes of on-farm agricultural production in the United States. The report analyzes trends over time at the United States national scale for each of the indicators. Part I analyzes environmental indicators for six crops, demonstrating trends over time from 1980-2011. Part II analyzes socioeconomic indicators for five crops. More...

Field to Market Additional Information

Get additional information about the Field to Market Alliance, including a list of members, our foundational principles, and other outcomes of the effort.