Model-based optimisation of agricultural profitability and nutrient management: a practical approach for dealing with issues of scale

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Milne, A. E., Coleman, K., Todman, L. C. and Whitmore, A. P. 2020. Model-based optimisation of agricultural profitability and nutrient management: a practical approach for dealing with issues of scale. Environmental Monitoring And Assessment. 192, p. 730. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-020-08699-z

AuthorsMilne, A. E., Coleman, K., Todman, L. C. and Whitmore, A. P.
Abstract

To manage agricultural landscapes more sustainably we must understand and quantify the synergies and trade-offs between environmental impact, production and ecosystem services. Models play an important role in this type of analysis as generally it is infeasible to achieve this using experiments alone. Here we link a relatively detailed, agricultural landscape model with a multiple-objective optimisation algorithm to determine solutions that maximise on both profitability and minimise greenhouse gas emissions in response to fertilizer application. Optimisation of landscapes for multiple objectives can be complex, particularly when there are a large number of control variables. We explore some practical solutions to such a problem, and show the advantages of using an hierarchical approach to the optimisation, whereby it is applied to finer scale units first, and then the solutions from each optimisation are combined in a second step. We show that if there is no interaction between units then the solution derived using such an approach will be the same as the one obtained if the landscape is optimised in one step. However, if there is spatial interaction, or if there are constraints on the allowable sets of solutions then outcomes can be quite different. In these cases, other approaches to increase the efficiency of the optimisation may be more appropriate – such as partially seeding the population with near optimal solutions.

KeywordsLandscape modelling; Trade-offs; Synergies; Ecosystem services; Multiple-objective optimisation
Year of Publication2020
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring And Assessment
Journal citation192, p. 730
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-020-08699-z
Open accessPublished as non-open access
FunderDepartment of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
European Union
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
National Environmental Research Council
Funder project or codeDEFRASIP
Towards Sustainable And Resilient Agriculture TSARA
S2N - Soil to Nutrition - Work package 3 (WP3) - Sustainable intensification - optimisation at multiple scales
ASSIST - Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online27 Oct 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted22 Oct 2020
PublisherSpringer
Copyright licenseCC BY
ISSN0167-6369

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