MACSUR science pick of the month: Modeling European ruminant production systems: facing the challenges of climate change
Kipling R.P., Bannink A., Bellocchi G., Dalgaard T., Fox N.J., Hutchings N.J., Kjeldsen C., Lacetera N., Sinabell F., Topp C.F.E., van Oijen M., Virkajärvi P., Scollan N.D. 2016. Modeling European ruminant production systems: Facing the challenges of climate change. Agricultural Systems 147, 24-37. doi: 10.1016/j.agsy.2016.05.007
Ruminant production systems are important producers of food, support rural communities and culture, and help to maintain a range of ecosystem services including the sequestering of carbon in grassland soils. However, these systems also contribute significantly to climate change through greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while intensification of production has driven biodiversity and nutrient loss, and soil degradation. Modeling can offer insights into the complexity underlying the relationships between climate change, management and policy choices, food production, and the maintenance of ecosystem services. This paper 1) provides an overview of how ruminant systems modeling supports the efforts of stakeholders and policymakers to predict, mitigate and adapt to climate change, 2) provides ideas for enhancing modeling to fulfil this role.
For the first time, this position paper presents together the range of disciplines and approaches involved in ruminant systems modeling in the context of climate change, from models of livestock-parasite interactions to grassland models and regional level economic models. The paper signposts the need for more detailed reviews of research priorities for modeling climate change impacts and adaptation in specific modeling disciplines.