Introduction and Instructions

This is a web-version of a database that is being developed for Defra-funded project IF0131, 'Assessment of reduction in environmental burdens through targeted measures compared with whole farm approaches in cropping and livestock systems'

Click here to view a video demonstration (6 mins duration) on how to use this website/database.

The purpose of this database is to aid an analysis of the mechanisms by which different approaches can influence environmental outcomes. In order to identify those systems and activities that are most or least effective at influencing environmental outcomes, some analysis needs to be undertaken to identify the causal mechanisms. A 2-way approach has been taken, 'top-down' and 'bottom-up', as shown in Figure 1a.

Figure 1a. Linkages between activities, effects and outcomes

Note: For display purposes, on this website the causal structure shown in Figure 1a is shown horizontally (left-right) rather than vertically (top-bottom) - see Figure 1b.

Figure 1b. Top-down and bottom-up perspectives are shown left to right (horizontally) on this website

This database facilitates the construction of this 'causal network' and subsequently its interrogation.

Each activity, effect and outcome is termed an 'item' in the database. You can view the details for each item by clicking on any hyperlinks to that item. The page that is then displayed will show the details for that item and any links too and from that item. The links are illustrated using arrows:

The size of the arrow reflects the strength/significance of the link (small = low, large = high) and the colour represents whether the link is positive or negative (green = positive, red = negative), e.g. an increase in emissions of carbon dioxide would be a negative link to the outcome of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. You can click on any of the arrows to reveal details about the link, including evidence that supports it.

Note: When taking a top-down perspective, the items down the tree will only show the contributing factors from the particular top-down perspective you have selected, i.e. an effect in the middle of a top-down view may not show all the contributing factors to that effect. To view all the contributing factors to a particular effect or outcome you will need to select a bottom-up perspective for that item.

Use the navigation links at the top of the page to view a list of 'Items' or to 'Search' for a specific item, or to return 'Home' to this page.

The 'Matrix' link shows 3 tables that show where link-chains exist between Activities and Outcomes, between Activities and Effects and between Effects and Outcomes.

As the database becomes populated with activities, effects, outcomes and the links between them, it should then be possible to 'overlay' different farming systems, or different approaches, be that whole farm or targeted, to see how they 'intervene' in the causal network, and thus how they can influence outcomes. Figure 2 illustrates this:

Figure 2. Linkages between activities, effects and outcomes with a farming system overlaid.


Defra Project IF0131
Assessment of reduction in environmental burdens through targeted measures compared with whole farm approaches in cropping and livestock systems
AERU, University of Hertfordshire
Friday 30 October 2009