About the EFA Calculator
The EFA software is a prototype tool that has been designed to perform two key functions:
- Provide a facility to describe and declare features on the farm as Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs)*.
- Assess the impact of features on the farm with respect their potential effects on ecosystem services, biodiversity and farm management.
The first function allows users to enter data about features (in the Land and Feature Manager), such as dimensions, and then an EFA assessment will allow user to declare these features as EFAs. This EFA assessment will check the rules and determine if the features selected are eligible to be EFA. If the features are eligible, then the EFA assessment will track progress towards the 5% EFA target and, if the target has not been met, make suggestions on what could be implemented on the farm to reach the 5% target.
The second function provides users with feedback on the potential impact of the features on the farm on ecosystem services, biodiversity and farm management. These are just suggestions on potential impacts, as such they are not quantified with numbers. Instead indicator bars and icons are used as a means to communicate potential impacts. This impact data can also be used when considering what new features to implement, e.g. in the event that the 5% EFA target is not met with existing features. A ranking tool with the software allows users to rank features based on their potential impact for a range of criteria (these can be the top level criteria of ecosystem services, biodiversity and management or they can be bespoke/specific impacts selected by the user). In so doing, this helps steer users towards implementing features that will increase the potential positive impact of the farm on ecosystem services, biodiversity and management.
The EFA Calculator now includes a mode to quantify some ecosystems services using techniques developed by the Quantification of Ecological Services for Sustainable Agriculture(QuESSA) project - Click here to visit the project website. When this mode is switched on, additional feedback and reporting options are displayed, which show the results of the QuESSA calculation for each feature, group of features or the farm as a whole.
* Under Common Agricultural Policy greening rules, farms with more than 15ha of arable land now have to declare 5% of the arable area as EFA in order receive direct payments from Europe (e.g. the Basic Payment Scheme in the UK). Different EFA features can have different weightings for their contribution towards meeting the 5% target. The EFA calculator software takes these weightings (and conversion factors, e.g. to convert linear features in areas) into account to calculate progress towards the 5% target.