Environmental indicators offer a simple measure of the status of an environmental attribute. Examples include indicators of potential damage, such as toxic emissions, as well as indicators of potential benefits, such as biodiversity. Environmental indicators can be used in trade-off analysis.
- Introduction to Agro-Environmental Indicators: This helpful introduction to the general topic of environmental indicators for agriculture comes from Environment Canada.
Examples of Specific Environmental Indicators
Environmental indicators offer a simple measure of the status of an environmental attribute. Many different specific environmental indicators are available, examples include indicators of potential damage, such as toxic emissions, as well as indicators of potential benefits, such as biodiversity. Environmental indicators can be used in trade-off analysis. Below are links to useful general indicators as well as links to soil erosion, pesticide toxicity, and other indicators.
- National environmental indicator data: The World Bank’s “The Little Green Data Book” offers national and regional data extracted from its annual World Development Report with environmental information for all nations.
- The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development: This 2011 report is Volume 3 of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s project “Environmental Indicators for Agriculture”. It covers environmental indicators for agriculture from field to landscape scale, including economic as well as biophysical indicators. The associated database is the 2013 Edition of the OECD Environmental Database.
Soil Erosion Indicators:
Tools for estimating the effects of water-caused soil erosion range from a single equation to a complex simulation model. Three major tools are:
- Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE): This is the original and most widely used tool for estimating soil erosion without knowing location specific data, developed by Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs.
- Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE): RUSLE is a revised, updated version of the USLE, developed by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
- Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP): WEPP is a process-based, distributed parameter, continuous simulation, erosion prediction model. It can simulate hill slope erosion processes, as well as simulation of the hydrologic and erosion processes on small watersheds.
Pesticide Toxicity Indicators:
- Pesticide Toxicity Categories and Pesticide Label Statements: These have been organized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) using criteria to classify pesticides by toxicity level.
- Pesticide Topical & Chemical Fact Sheet, Assessing Health Risks from Pesticides: This EPA site explains how EPA calculates health risks from pesticides.
- Pesticide Fact Sheets: National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) Pesticide Fact Sheets provide general pesticide information, including toxicity profiles, organized by pesticide active ingredient name. (Oregon State University and EPA).
- Pesticide Information Profiles (PIPs): EXTOXNET (Extension Toxicology Network, UC- Davis). provides detailed information on pesticide toxicity, but less cleanly presented than the NPIC pesticide fact sheets.
- Toxicology Information Briefs (TIBs): TIBs explains toxicology information contained in the EXTOXNET Pesticide Information Profiles above.