This contribution presents a methodology for integrated assessment of agricultural systems, illustrates its application and discusses its flexibility and limitations. It also reflects on how the methodology was developed in a large European and interdisciplinary research project (SEAMLESS) and how it will be maintained and further extended. The methodology consists of components simulating well defined processes at specific scales, that can be used stand-alone, but that can also be linked through a software infrastructure to address the multi-scale and highly integrated problems that agriculture is facing. The component-based structure allows it to benefit from the work of related disciplinary teams (agro-ecologists, farming systems researchers, agricultural economists, etc.) for integrative purposes. The conceptual and technical linking of the components includes methods for up and downscaling and ontology development ensuring consistent exchanges of inputs and outputs across components. This integrative work is highly interdisciplinary and requires a generation of scientists with sufficient multidisciplinary knowledge, familiarity with novel IT concepts and high motivation to integrate knowledge across domains and scales. The resulting integrated framework has been tested and applied to a broad range of farm types and agricultural systems across the EU, including arable and livestock farming, to assess agricultural, environmental and trade policies at European, regional and local level.
|Journal||Aspects of Applied Biology|
|Publication status||Published - 2009|