Private Site Login



Public Comment Period Opens

Pilot-tested Metrics Available for Stakeholder Review, Comment

SOQUEL, CALIF., June 20, 2013 – The Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops (SISC) today opened a public comment period for five proposed metrics. The metrics have been developed and tested through an innovative process aimed at achieving multi-stakeholder consensus for how to measure specialty crop performance. The comment period will run through July 18, 2013.

The Proposed Metric packets available for comment are: Applied Water Use Efficiency, Energy Use, Nitrogen Use, Phosphorus Use and Soil Organic Matter. The packets may be accessed at (requires brief registration).

Each packet outlines the need for the metric, describes it, and offers detailed technical notes. The documents also acknowledge issues that could be addressed in future versions of each metric, including issues raised during the scientific peer-review process.

All interested and registered parties are invited to review the packets and comment. Comments may be posted online or submitted via E-mail to

The SISC project is entering a key phase. It is on track to release Version 1.0 Working Metrics by early September 2013. By design, they will be open source—free of charge and available for anyone to use internally to measure on-farm performance.

Using the initial metrics, SISC is also conducting highly targeted pilot tests with partners seeking to use on-farm data to address clearly defined market opportunities, demands, and/or regulatory pressures. Groups selected to participate include Farm Fresh Direct (Monte Vista, CO, potato shipper), the Almond Board of California, a group of California tomato processors, a group of New Jersey vegetable growers, and several other regional grower groups.

Since SISC was founded in 2008 by a coalition of growers, buyers and public interest groups, its volunteer leadership and staff have:

  • Developed, pilot-tested and refined metrics in four categories (water, energy, soil and nutrients) and completed significant work on three additional metrics (biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions and waste);
  • Submitted metrics for peer-review to the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute, and formed a Metric Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) to ensure that peer feedback is used to optimize metrics prior to the public comment period;
  • Pilot tested the metrics with 109 growers in four states, representing 13 crops and more than 270,000 acres (2012 figures; an initial round of pilot tests was conducted in 2010);
  • Gathered extensive input from expert stakeholders about how best to measure sustainable resource use on-farm, and how to turn data into actionable information; and,
  • Communicated with hundreds of grower and buyer stakeholders about the value of measure-to-manage in the U.S. specialty crop supply chain