The Impact of Data-Sharing Technology on Farmers’ Sustainability Work : a study of Arla’s climate calculation tool

Detta är en Master-uppsats från SLU/Dept. of Economics

Sammanfattning: The food industry and agriculture are facing pressure to implement sustainable processes and reduce environmental impact while meeting the needs of a growing population. The European Union has adopted the new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, putting pressure on corporations to adopt more sustainable practises and become more sustainable. The agricultural sector is experiencing an increase in digitisation, which has enabled farms to use data to develop initiatives aimed at increasing sustainability in their businesses. However, the heavy reliance on data, digital solutions, and systems that do not interact with each other makes it difficult for farmers to keep track of and measure sustainability performance and climate impact. Data-sharing technology is addressed as a crucial aspect of developing more sustainable practises and increased profitability in agriculture. However, few studies have addressed the use of data-sharing technology on a farm level and its correlation to increased sustainability. This study aims to gain a deeper understanding of how data-sharing technology is affecting small-firm behaviour and sustainability work. To fulfil the aim of this study, a case study of farmers using Arla Food’s climate calculation tool has been conducted. Arla is a global dairy corporation and has implemented a digital tool that uses data-sharing technology as part of its sustainability strategy to achieve net zero greenhouse gases in the entire value chain by 2050. The tool calculates the carbon footprint of an agricultural business by collecting data on animals, feed, plant cultivation, energy use etc. The study has an exploratory design based on a qualitative case study. The empirical results have been collected through four interviews with farmers using Arla’s climate calculation tool. The collected data has been analysed with thematic analysis to find commonly emerging themes and produce a nuanced result. The empirical findings have been analysed using a conceptual framework addressing the triple bottom line framework, sustainability reporting, and benchmarking theory. It is concluded that farmers have implemented sustainability practises and made improvements in their sustainability work by using the tool. The findings indicate that data-sharing technology has a positive impact on small firms’ behaviour and their sustainability work, but it is unclear whether data-sharing technology itself has enabled the improvements. The farm businesses have mostly been affected by the possibility of collecting and storing data in a comprehensive system that offers an overall understanding of the farm’s data and sustainability performance. This study, therefore, contributes to a deeper understanding of data-sharing technology in agriculture and its correlation to sustainability.

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