Integrated modelling of Nordic farming systems for sustainable intensification under climate change

NORFASYS Integrated modelling






To ensure global food security and agricultural sustainability in the coming decades, sustainable intensification of agriculture is needed. Climate change is complicating the task. This refers, and also will challenge Northern European agriculture and requires improved understanding of factors explaining yield gaps (YG, i.e. the difference in yields that farmers realize and what is theoretically possible under ideal management) and associated resource use (in-)efficiencies . YGs and resource use efficiencies are typically assessed at field level, and decisons on adaptation to climate change mainly take place at the farm level. For regional and national assessments as required by policv makers, to date, information on YGs, climate change adaptation and mitigation measures are generally up-scaled directly, “brushing” over a range of explanatory factors at the farm and more aggregated levels. Farmers take decisions about field, crop and livestock management on the basis of their access to knowledge and information, personal circumstances, and the broader socio-economic, institutional and political environment they operate in. This research project will close the lacking integration at farm level. To this end, the project aims to i) develop novel agro-ecosystem and farming systems modelling approaches and tools, ii) evaluate and integrate agro-ecological and socio-economic data and models as needed for multi-scale scenario studies, iii) build research capacity in integrated modelling, and iv) taylor and apply the methodology together with stakeholders for contrasting agricultural systems (characterized by cereal-pig and dairy farming systems) in Finland. Output from this research is expected to increase understanding of existing yield gaps and how to reduce them across different farming systems in Finland, develop meaningful adaptive management practices, that combine climate change adaptation with required mitigation strategies and simultaneously take the multiple goals of farming into account. Comparative analysis of best, average and worst performing farms using economic methods will be combined with theory and information on production ecology to explore options for sustainable intensification* in a changing climate . This is demonstrated in two regional pilot studies.