FAQ

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OVERVIEW

What is geoFootprint?

geoFootprint is the first platform to bridge GIS technology (satellite imagery) with leading-edge environmental footprinting science based on life cycle assessment.

This powerful combination of high-integrity data and rigorous footprinting methodology is projected onto an interactive, online world map. Easily calculate and model the footprints of 15 key agricultural commodities and their co-products for any country in the world. Granular visibility — down to 10×10 km — allows you to instantly understand the impacts of your sourcing decisions, identify the factors contributing to your environmental footprint and simulate interventions to reduce it for a more sustainable supply chain.

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Who is geoFootprint for?

geoFootprint delivers instant insights to agrifood companies, public institutions and research organizations to transform the way they assess and manage the environmental footprint of crops.

> It will equip sustainability managers and procurement specialists with insights that support science-driven decision-making and foster engagement within their company and with their suppliers.
> It will serve policy makers and NGOs by providing a consistent baseline for all geographies, giving them science-based metrics to target interventions and engage with local stakeholders.

> Businesses and the research community will gain incredible simulation capacity for climate-smart agricultural practices.

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Why use geoFootprint?

With geoFootprint, users get quick answers to complex sustainability questions.

Companies in crop-based industries that set ambitious targets to reduce their footprint face massive supply chain data management challenges. Data for agricultural production systems can be incomplete, inconsistent, and too generic.

geoFootprint eliminates the burden of manually measuring and monitoring your sustainability metrics by displaying this data on an intuitive and interactive online world map — down to a resolution of 10×10 km (25,000 km) — delivering granular data that yields sharper insights for strategic decision-making.

Drawing on the best sources of publicly-available environmental data, users can easily understand a crop’s geography-specific footprint, identify what contributes to the footprint, and run simulations to see which interventions would have the most positive impact on their supply chain’s footprint.

For 15 key commodity crops, geoFootprint displays information for crop yields, production volume, fertilizer input rates, soil characteristics, and 10 state-of-the-art environmental footprint metrics.

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How does geoFootprint work?

geoFootprint combines geospatial data with state-of-the-art life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology to generate highly granular emission factors for a variety of crops, wherever they are cultivated in the world.

Each unit of analysis — 10×10 km pixels — is characterized by a broad set of agricultural practices, which are specific to each crop that is known to be grown in that area.

These practices include fertilizer input rates (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium), manure application rates, irrigation intensity and technology, land management practices, such as no till or cover cropping, as well as crop residue management practices.

Combined with soil characteristics (e.g., pH, clay content, organic carbon content), which are available at that same resolution, geoFootprint computes direct field emissions taking place due to biochemical processes occurring in the soil.

These are then used in combination with emission factors from other activities taking place on-site (e.g., fuel combustion from machinery) and upstream (e.g., fertilizer and pesticide production). This generates a unique set of scope 3 emission factors per unit of crop (kilogram, hectare or acre) in each specific pixel.

geoFootprint aggregates these emission factors from different neighbouring pixels into relevant areas such as countries or sub-national jurisdictions like states, departments, provinces and counties.

To see geoFootprint in action, watch this short demo and try geoFootprint Open.

For more about the technical aspects of geoFootprint, watch this presentation from our LCA specialist Adrien Liernur at the 2020 SETAC Conference.

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What’s so innovative about geoFootprint?

geoFootprint is the first-ever platform to leverage satellite imagery with leading-edge environmental footprinting science. Its ability to compute detailed and fully transparent environmental footprints at a resolution of 10×10 km worldwide transforms the way we measure and manage the footprint of supply chains.

A multi-stakeholder initiative launched by Quantis in 2018, geoFootprint was built collaboratively in partnership with more than 25 public, private and academic stakeholders.

It was developed with the idea that spatially-explicit footprints, calculated at global scale, would facilitate and accelerate our capacity to measure, understand and monitor how different agricultural practices can accelerate the transition toward more sustainable food, fiber and material production systems.

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What’s the difference between geoFootprint and geoFootprint Open?

geoFootprint Open is a simplified, open-access version of geoFootprint. With extensive exploration possibilities, geoFootprint Open users can visualize key environmental footprints for any geography of interest, from multiple countries to individual grid cells.

geoFootprint is accessed through a license agreement. It includes the full set of functionalities, with complete access to input data and all metrics, as well as an advanced simulation engine in which users can create projects and define scenarios for a large variety of crop management practices. By inputting (or importing) their own data, users can calculate, visualize and compare customized footprints for any location in the world, in a fully secure environment.

For a tour of the full-access, licensed version of geoFootprint, watch the demo.

Please contact us for a complete overview of the differences between geoFootprint and geoFootprint Open.

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How does geoFootprint complement the Cool Farm Tool?

The Cool Farm Tool is a farm-level assessment tool designed to support farmers and their direct customers in assessing and understanding the environmental footprint of their products. Other similar tools like Fieldprint are also available on the market. These tools operate at the farm level and are built on a fully bottom-up data collection approach.

geoFootprint operates at a different spatial scale, with a maximum resolution of 10×10 km grid cells. It provides generic — though highly granular — information on the potential footprint of agricultural crop production at global scale, accounting for regional specificities without the need to manually collect and input user data.

Quantis partners with Cool Farm Alliance, the not-for-profit community developing and owning the Cool Farm Tool, to reinforce the complementarity of both tools and avoid overlap. The joint value-add of using geoFootprint in combination with the Cool Farm Tool lies in the novel possibility offered to licensed users of both platforms to compute environmental metrics in a consistent way at different scales and exchange data seamlessly. This grants a whole new capability to navigate from large-scale supply chain management to farm-level interventions and reversely, deploying smart agriculture scenarios and assessing how they perform when being scaled up.

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DATA + METRICS

What crops are included in geoFootprint?

geoFootprint currently includes data for 15 of the main crop commodities: barley, maize, oil palm, peanut, potato, rapeseed, rice, rye, seed cotton (preliminary) sorghum, soybean, sugar beet, sugar cane, sunflower and wheat.

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What environmental metrics and production data are included in geoFootprint?

geoFootprint computes Scope 3 emission factors at the farm gate. These factors include all activities and emissions taking place at the farm (e.g., fertilizers application and related emissions to the environment, fuel combustion in machinery, and irrigation systems) and human activities taking place upstream in the supply chain (e.g., deforestation, fuel production and transportation, fertilizer production and transportation, machinery fabrication).

The life cycle assessment (LCA) framework enables the calculation of a broad array of environmental metrics, including impacts on climate, water, soil and biodiversity.

Environmental metrics > Acidification*
> Climate change (including and excluding deforestation)
> Ecosystems quality
> Freshwater eutrophication*
> Irrigation stress intensity*
> Marine eutrophication*
> Soil erosion
> Soil organic carbon change*
> Water scarcity
> Water withdrawal

*Available to licensed users only. To purchase a geoFootprint license, contact us for details.

Environmental footprint metrics are calculated per hectare (or acre) and per ton (or pounds) of harvested crop. Additional metrics, including potential species loss, are under development.

Production data> Field operations (e.g., tillage, anti-erosion practices, sowing, harvesting, crop residues management)
> Harvested area
> Irrigation water and technology
> Mineral fertilizer application rates (N, P and K)
> Manure application rate
> Nitrogen Use Efficiency
> Production volume
> Total active ingredients for crop protection
> Yield


Environmental characteristics
> Average temperature
> Soil clay, silt and sand contents
> Soil organic carbon stock
> Soil pH

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How often are the data updated?

geoFootprint is continuously updated for improved accuracy.

Life cycle inventory data are typically updated on a yearly basis. Emission models and impact assessment models are updated as new research of relevance is published in the scientific literature or as new standards are agreed upon by the footprinting community.

We are working on expanding our sources for geospatial crop production data to ensure proper time representativeness of the crop masks and key cultivation characteristics. One example is seed cotton, for which geoFootprint currently includes preliminary data. These data are undergoing an update based on recent sub-national data for main producing countries.

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What data sources power geoFootprint?

geoFootprint uses a variety of data sources, all of which are public.

geoFootprint uses geospatial data for key attributes such as harvested area, production volume, crop yield, fertilizer input rates, manure application rates and soil characteristics, with main providers being EarthStat and ISRIC Soil Grids.

geoFootprint uses the latest life cycle inventory (LCI) data from the World Food LCA Database and ecoinvent.

All data sources and data processing steps are detailed in the third-party reviewed geoFootprint Technical Documentation.

On average, a crop is cultivated in about 250,000 grid cells. geoFootprint offers metrics for 15 crops, each covering more than 200 data layers and therefore generating approximately 750 million data points during the calculation process. About 200 million (25%) of these data points are pushed to the geoFootprint platform, giving users maximum flexibility on the choice of environmental metrics and aggregation possibilities. Footprints are re-computed at multiple administrative levels such as countries, states, provinces and counties.

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What are the methods used in geoFootprint?

The methods for data processing, emissions modelling, land use and land use change accounting, and impact assessment are detailed in the third-party reviewed geoFootprint Technical Documentation.

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How is land use change considered?

geoFootprint includes a comprehensive model for land use change (LUC). The land transformation model utilizes spatially-explicit data from Global Forest Watch on tree cover loss. Greenhouse gas emissions are calculated based on the loss of above- and belowground biomass from tree cover loss (primary and secondary forest). Since other carbon pools and other land category transformations are currently not included, land use change is referred to as “deforestation” in geoFootprint. For each 10×10-km grid cell where crop cultivation takes place, the deforestation model allocates the total tree cover loss over the last 18 years to specific crops based on their relative harvested area.

The land use change modelling approach is detailed in the geoFootprint Technical Documentation.

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How is land use considered?

geoFootprint includes a comprehensive model for land use (LU) which focuses mostly on changes of carbon in the soil, i.e., the decrease or accumulation of soil organic carbon (SOC), due to the different management practices, and corresponding emissions in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4). geoFootprint utilizes the emission models from the IPCC, together with the specific refinements proposed by the Cool Farm Tool, to compute these changes. Management practices of relevance under consideration in the LU model include the effect of:


> Land use change (LUC), tillage and input practice on SOC which can lead to CO2 and N2O emissions
> Carbon leaching due to soil erosion in the form of CO2
> Residue management practices, which regulate carbon input from plant residues and carbon emission from decomposition, and therefore influence CH4 and N2O emissions
> Mineral and organic fertilizer application, which increase soil nitrogen availability and therefore also N2O emissions from soils as a by-product of nitrification and denitrification
> The decomposition of dead organic matter and soil organic matter under flooded conditions (e.g., rice cultivation) in the form of CH4
> Timing, which transfers carbon from the earth crust to the atmosphere by removing calcium carbonate from limestone and dolomite deposits

The land use modelling approach is detailed in the geoFootprint Technical Documentation.

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Can I use the results of geoFootprint to make sustainability claims?

geoFootprint aims to support decision-making for sustainable supply chain management, corporate footprint assessments and corporate target setting. We recommend taking caution when using environmental performance results to make sustainability claims. Reliable and transparent communications require a thorough understanding of how to interpret the data and the underlying drivers of environmental impacts. Quantis’ Communications and Engagement Solutions Team can support you in making credible and effective claims that respect the fundamental principles for communicating product sustainability information.

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ACCESSING GEOFOOTPRINT

How much does a license cost?

Pricing for geoFootprint depends on the nature of your organization (private, public, nonprofit, education). Please contact us for more information.

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How many users can access geoFootprint with one license?

Licenses are offered per organization. Each licensed organization can have up to 30 individual users.

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GET INVOLVED

Can my organization be involved in future developments?

We are open to discussing any type of collaboration on new developments. Please contact us to share your ideas!

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