A review of European models to assess the sustainability performance of livestock production systems

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Abstract

A large variety of models has been developed to explore the multidimensional, and sometimes conflicting, sustainability consequences of innovations and policies for European livestock farms. Implementation of innovations and policies generally results in both synergies and trade-offs between the environmental, economic, and social dimension of sustainability, and among sustainability themes within these dimensions. An overview of the specific sustainability themes addressed by livestock models is lacking, which hinders the further development of models to evaluate a wide array of sustainability dimensions and themes. The aim of this review, therefore, is to provide an overview of European livestock models that can be used to explore synergies and trade-offs among sustainability themes. This systematic literature review yielded 215 European livestock models at the animal level, herd or flock level and farm level. Models were mainly developed in Western Europe, and may have, therefore, a reduced accuracy when applied to other regions than Western Europe. Most models cannot assess a wide array of synergies and trade-offs among sustainability dimensions and themes, as only 33% covered all three sustainability dimensions. Models addressed four sustainability themes on average. Social themes are often lacking in models and additional efforts are needed to develop more integrative models by adapting and extending existing models, especially for monogastric animals. Adaptation and extension of existing models is facilitated by improving the availability of livestock models, increasing the percentage of livestock models published open source, collaborating on the development of joint and generic models and by improving descriptions of the programming languages and programs used and the stakeholders involved. This model review can be used to identify which models or combinations of models are best suited to explore the sustainability consequences of innovations and policies for livestock farms in Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102842
JournalAgricultural Systems
Volume182
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

Keywords

  • Availability
  • Bio-economic model
  • Impact assessment
  • Linear programming
  • Sustainability indicators

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