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Step 5: Visualization
Specific guidance on data collection for each of the indicators is provided on each indicator's page.
Presenting multiple sustainability indicators to an audience is complex and requires that relative changes among indicators be captured. There is debate on the optimal number of indicators that can be presented on a given visual aid to prevent information overload1 but also to demonstrate relationships between the indicators that portray differences relative to a reference value or target, as well as, to one another. In addition, if temporal aspects are part of the assessment, an illustration is required to show change over time of given indicators and how they move towards or away from sustainability targets. Similarly, if the impact of context is being considered, an illustration of indicator performance for different contexts needs to be presented such as the presentation of results for various locations across a continuum (e.g., high, medium, and low agricultural potential).
A number of studies have used various methods to present indicator output results to examine tradeoffs and/or relative changes using biplots, bar charts, and matrices. One of the most widely used approaches are radar charts, with variants including spidergrams, star plots and petal diagrams2 that can be used to visualize simultaneously a large number of studies or locations, if detail is minimized3. Indicator output presentation may also require setting and presenting thresholds below and above which a target indicator is red‐ flagged for either policy or technological intervention. Zurek et al. (2015) propose use of a traffic light system to indicate whether a given indicator is below, above, or near a critical threshold.
In addition, farm typologies can be used to compare performance across given levels of intensification. Hammond et al. (2017) present farm level performance in Tanzania that categorizes farms by size (hectare) and intensification level (nitrous oxide emissions). In situations with limited data, models have been used to examine tradeoff and synergies using bio‐economic models, like FarmDESIGN4. In this study, twoway scatterplots are used to present performance of the household relative to scenarios in which multiple objectives are considered5. Marinus et al. (forthcoming) point out the importance of understanding the variability as well as the mean values for indicators. They also point out the challenge of losing information when aggregating from lower spatial scales.
Use radar chart generator on this website to visualize your data, in addition to other visualization techniques that you find useful for assessing your innovations.
After you've completed your preferred method of visualization, you will share your assessment with stakeholders.
2Frelat et al., 2016; Zurek et al., 2015; Snapp et al., 2010
3Droppelmann et al., 2016
4Groot et al., 2012
5Groot et. al., 2012; Kanter et al., 2016