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A free online tool to calculate three nitrogen-related indicators for farming systems


  • Carof, Matthieu
  • Godinot, Olivier


Reactive nitrogen (N) is a key agricultural input, essential for crop growth and production, but excess N in the environment causes problems for human and ecological health. One of the most promising solutions for reducing environmental impacts of excess N levels and feeding a growing population is to improve N efficiency of farming systems i.e., increase the ratio of their N output to N input. Assessing promising solutions involves calculating N efficiency, which is not trivial. For this reason, a free online tool was developed – the SyNE calculator, – to allow farmers, farm advisors, researchers, and policy makers to calculate three N-related indicators of farming systems: SyNE, an N efficiency indicator; SyNB, an N balance indicator; and RNE, a relative N efficiency indicator. After entering information about a farming system, the SyNE calculator produces two main outputs: first, values of the three indicators (SyNE, SyNB, and RNE) and those of related variables (N inputs, N losses during production and transport of inputs, N outputs, and change in soil N); second, a downloadable diagram showing these values. The main advantages of this tool are that it (i) simplifies N indicator calculation, using the same scientific framework for all farming systems, and (ii) includes many reference values that are difficult to obtain (e.g., N losses during production and transport of inputs). Furthermore, this tool allows advanced users to modify the values and equations used to calculate the three N-related indicators. The SyNE calculator is currently available for farms producing dairy cattle, beef cattle, and field crops; in the near future, it will be available for farms producing pigs and broilers. If used, this online tool will contribute to the development of N efficiency evaluation by farmers, farm advisors, and researchers, which may result in improved agricultural N management practices.

Suggested Citation

  • Carof, Matthieu & Godinot, Olivier, 2018. "A free online tool to calculate three nitrogen-related indicators for farming systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 28-33.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:162:y:2018:i:c:p:28-33
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2018.01.015

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bockstaller, C. & Girardin, P., 2003. "How to validate environmental indicators," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 639-653, May.
    2. Rose, David C. & Sutherland, William J. & Parker, Caroline & Lobley, Matt & Winter, Michael & Morris, Carol & Twining, Susan & Ffoulkes, Charles & Amano, Tatsuya & Dicks, Lynn V., 2016. "Decision support tools for agriculture: Towards effective design and delivery," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 165-174.
    3. Godinot, O. & Carof, M. & Vertès, F. & Leterme, P., 2014. "SyNE: An improved indicator to assess nitrogen efficiency of farming systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 41-52.
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    1. Pirjo Peltonen-Sainio & Lauri Jauhiainen, 2019. "Risk of Low Productivity is Dependent on Farm Characteristics: How to Turn Poor Performance into an Advantage," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(19), pages 1-17, October.
    2. Schiavon, Stefano & Sturaro, Enrico & Tagliapietra, Franco & Ramanzin, Maurizio & Bittante, Giovanni, 2019. "Nitrogen and phosphorus excretion on mountain farms of different dairy systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 36-47.

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