Outlook: RISE 4.0 and PSAM

As part of the current upgrade from RISE 3.0 to RISE 4.0, BFH is working on the PSAM (Platform for Sustainability Assessment Methods) software platform. In addition to RISE 4.0, other indicator-based sustainability analysis methods for agriculture and other sectors can be operated on the platform. PSAM offers its clients a professional software solution for data collection, indicator calculation, and reporting.

PSAM is unique in fostering collaboration among its clients by allowing indicators to be shared between different methodologies and jointly developed as per the clients’ needs. Operators of methods on PSAM can thus expand their methods in a targeted manner and make better use of synergies.

Sustainability analyses for the future

RISE 4.0 – Innovations and features

For 20 years now, RISE has been in constant use and under continuous development so as to ensure that the technology is always up-to-date and reliable over the long term. RISE 4.0 is currently under development and is expected to replace the current software, RISE 3.0, in the first quarter of 2024.

The RISE team will assist RISE 3.0 users during this transition. Data from previous farm surveys and stored master and reference data will be migrated. RISE users do not need to engage in this process.

Outlook on RISE 4.0:



Indicators will be migrated unchanged from RISE 3.0 to RISE 4.0. New calculation variants of an indicator with changed formulas can then simply be entered into RISE 4.0.

Users can choose from different indicator calculation variants. For example, during the interview a user can choose whether to assess an indicator directly using an estimate or based on questions and formulas.

Calculations, results and graphics

The calculation formulas, from the issue interrogated to the final result, are displayed and can be viewed at any time. Intermediate results are now also shown, which can serve as important additional information.

The results can be displayed in a variety of selectable graphical formats. With the help of the drill-down function, users can navigate from final results to intermediate results to questions and reference data. The typical RISE polygon that visualises the results is similar to the one used in RISE 3.0.


Surveys conducted using the software are temporally backwards compatible. It is possible to conduct a survey using older data together with reference data from the corresponding year. Similarly, forecast data can be used together with future annual reference data, such as assumptions for inflation rates. This allows for easier calculations and comparisons of scenarios.

Pre-filling of questionnaires by farm managers

Prior to the interview, the advisor sends the farm managers a web link for self-assessment. This gives farm managers the opportunity to present their internal view by entering into the software a direct assessment of their RISE results for the various themes and indicators.

Via a second web link, the farm managers can access the farm survey questionnaire provided by their advisor and pre-fill it, if they so wish and in so far as they can. They can, for example, pre-set the region or the calculation variants for the indicators. The latter can be qualitative, quantitative or a direct entry.

After pre-filling, the farm managers release the questionnaire to the advisors, after which point the farm managers can make no further entries. This prevents a back and forth of data being altered or overwritten.

Interview flow

In RISE 3.0, the order of the questions follows the logic of an agricultural holding, starting with all the questions on soil, followed by questions on livestock and so on. In RISE 4.0, the questions are structured according to the results’ themes and indicators. The benefit of this approach is that it is always clear to which indicator a question relates. This allows farm managers to answer more precisely and more quickly, not least because queries as to the questions’ context may be eliminated.

As soon as all the questions regarding a specific indicator are answered, the software immediately calculates and visualises the result. The interview can thus be combined with feedback (discussion of the results). However, it is also possible to complete the interview first and discuss the results with the advisor during a second visit.

Advisory scheme from the perspective of farm managers


You will discuss the details of the advisory with the RISE advisor by telephone. You will have documents at hand or mail them to the advisor.

Time needed: 0.5h*


Using a web link sent to you by the advisor, you will complete a self-assessment of your operation with regard to the sustainability themes and indicators in the RISE software.

Time needed: 1 – 2h*

Pre-filling the questionnaire

Your advisor will send you a second web link to a questionnaire that he/she has prepared for and adapted to your holding. If you like and are in a position to do so, you may further pre-fill this questionnaire yourself.

Time needed: 1 – 3h*

Farm walk and analysis and advisory meeting

At the start of the meeting, you will take the advisor for a short tour of the holding.

Then you can decide the order in which you wish to enter the data into the software together with your advisor. You can choose which topics you wish to start and end with, and how detailed the analysis should be. If you like, you can view the results immediately after completing a theme or after completing the entire analysis.

Time needed: 4 – 8h *

Results & action planning

With the advisor, you will discuss the analysis results and what they mean for your operation. You will prioritise your new targets and plan appropriate measures to be taken.

Time needed: 2h*

Further advice and assistance (flexible)

After 3-6 months you will take stock together with the advisor. You will discuss outstanding issues and plan next steps.


*The hours needed are estimates and depend on the farm’s size and complexity.

  1. The RISE training courses are more standardised, with the titles “RISE analyst”, “RISE consultant” and “RISE instructor” now being awarded. For more on this see under “RISE training courses”.
  2. Software user management allows for different roles to be assigned to RISE users. In addition to the role of “interviewerW, there is now also a role of “interviewee”, as managers may also enter data.
  3. There is a new role, i.e. that of method distributor. These represent HAFL as licence distributors and may distribute RISE licences or license other methods running on PSAM. Method distributors may also offer on-site training. They act as hubs facilitating the dissemination of RISE and other PSAM methods around the globe.
  4. For a RISE licence covering multiple user accounts, there is now a licence administrator who manages user licences within a purchased RISE licence.

PSAM – Why a platform?

A growing number of initiatives, projects and organisations around the world are developing indicators and systems to assess the sustainability of agricultural production and the commodity chain. In total there are more than 60 multidimensional analysis methods and standards for sustainable agriculture, involving a large number of indicators. Moreover, numerous indicator frameworks with similar objectives and content have also emerged in upstream and downstream agricultural sectors. Although the methods differ in their intended use and target groups, the required indicators often do already exist.

The development of these indicators requires a considerable amount of expertise and experience on the part of many actors, and the developers usually face the same challenges. Developing indicators is not easy: they need to be tailored to a specific purpose, while being sufficiently specific and relevant to meet the SMART indicator principles. Inappropriate indicators provide incorrect situational assessments and can result in incorrect decisions being taken. 
In addition to the scientific expert work to develop the indicators’ content, system developers also invest in customised IT solutions for data collection, indicator calculation and the display of analysis results. These can be spreadsheet programs, Excel for example, or more advanced IT solutions. Associated functions such as user management, databases for data management, attractive user interfaces, data import and export functions, and documentation (e.g. reports, manuals, working materials, contracts) are also usually developed alongside.




PSAM architecture

With the PSAM platform, newly available expertise can be shared, experiences exchanged and synergies exploited. Method developers can run their methods on the PSAM software and benefit from the generic architecture, software interface and infrastructure. Own indicators can be programmed into the PSAM system and, if desired, shared with other users. To complete one's own indicator framework, other indicators can be used to compile a package that meets one's own requirements. In this manner, the method developers can use their resources to put the methods into practice and employ these to truly improve agricultural sustainability.


PSAM is a solid conceptual foundation for software and provides a community-centred model for sharing methods and indicators. Thus, PSAM greatly simplifies the digital implementation of indicator-based assessment methods. This is due in part to the fact that even more complex scientific calculations can be specified and maintained directly by IT specialists, with no informatics-specific skills (e.g. programming) being required. At the same time, this is achieved due to the possibility of exchanging and reusing calculations, indicators or entire sub-methods.

The platform allows PSAM participants to run their own customisable instance («software») of the platform application. Based on a generic toolbox, they can customise the user interface design, access page and other functions according to their specific needs. This ensures an operating environment that is optimally adapted to different applications and, in turn, a high level of acceptance.

A key advantage of the platform is the interchangeability of indicators between methods. To make this possible, it is essential that the indicators comply with common principles. This concerns indicator definition, documentation and calculation method. To achieve this, all indicators on the platform are recorded in a uniform manner using an indicator wizard that covers the relevant characteristics.

The platform allows for a flexible combination of indicators and the creation of individual frameworks geared to specific needs. This improves the individual indicator system’s quality and fit and provides more precise and accurate information and results.

PSAM participants can make indicators they have devised themselves available on the platform and share them with others, and they can also make use of indicators as part of existing methods, such as RISE. Therefore, each platform participant has access to a greater number of indicators. This helps them to improve their own indicators, to develop solutions for new contexts (analyses at the processing stage for example) and to use synergies by reusing indicators rather than developing new ones.


Would you like more information about the PSAM project or would you like to discuss it with us? Contact us. We look forward to hearing your ideas and questions.