A wheat field underneath a bright blue sky

Philanthropy Report 2021/22

Improving agricultural sustainability through digital tools


A programme of research to explore the potential for digital tools to reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture has been made possible through a generous donation from the Login5 Foundation.

Agriculture is a significant driver of humanity’s most pressing environmental problems and finding solutions that can scale up to the world’s 570 million farms is a key challenge. Through the development of highly scalable digital tools, like mobile phone applications, millions of farms could be reached with environmental monitoring, benchmarking, advice and incentives.

The project will allow the Oxford Martin School (OMS) and the Department of Biology to expand a data platform called HESTIA, which was developed at the OMS with support from the World Wide Fund for Nature. HESTIA allows environmental impacts to be calculated from farmer data.

By connecting existing digital tools they are using to the HESTIA data platform, farmers can better understand their greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity impacts, water use and other impact indicators, and receive advice on how to improve them. The project will also use field trials in different countries to quantify the effects of these tools on farmer behaviour.

Professor E J Milner-Gulland, Principal Investigator on the project, said: ‘The global food system must be transformed for the sake of our planet’s health as well as our own. This project will look at ways to achieve this using a farmer-led approach, by providing farmers worldwide with ways to improve their sustainability.’

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