AnimalFuture is a project funded by the European Research NETwork on Sustainable Animal Production (ERA-NET SusAn). Eight European partner institutions under lead of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) aim at developing forward looking solutions for sustainable livestock farming.
AnimalFuture strives to improve the sustainability of livestock farming systems by assessing the multi-dimensional effects of innovations. The project aims to identify innovations that will minimise trade-offs between different sustainability aspects such as economic, ecologic or social ones, while maximising synergies and avoiding translocation effects. For this purpose, AnimalFuture will create a decision support tool that will enable decision makers to estimate the effects of innovations - from farm to region to EU level - and select the most appropriate measures with respect to economy and ecology.
AnimalFuture is pursuing the following specific objectives:
Identify sustainability issues and possible solutions in livestock farming in close cooperation with actors of the livestock value chain to assure practical relevance and feasibility
Define the cost-benefit portfolio at farm level when adopting innovative practices
Quantify the impact of these innovative practices on the cost-benefit portfolio at farm level
Identify the trade-offs between costs and benefits at regional, national and EU levels (upscaling)
Develop an evidence-based tool, enabling actors of the livestock value chain to select the most appropriate innovative practices to achieve sustainable livestock farming systems
Promote sustainable practices among animal production actors
Concept / Approach
Improving livestock sustainability requires more than just controlling its environmental footprint. Solutions must be built on a comprehensive consideration of environmental, social, and economic benefits and costs along with their synergies and trade-offs. AnimalFuture is therefore built upon the concept of “portfolio of benefits and costs”.
Within this portfolio, services as well as costs provided to the public by livestock farming can be made explicit. A portfolio consists of a wide variety of issues that are affected by livestock farming. While an innovation may be efficient at a given farm, it might be ineffective at a larger scale – for example due to displacement effects. As portfolios do not only emerge at farm level but at different scales, AnimalFuture is taking a cross-scale approach. The (test) farm network will serve as basis for exploring the effects of innovations on productivity, resilience, competitiveness, environmental and social issues from farm to European scale.
AnimalFuture is broken down into four research and innovation work packages. In addition, one work package is dedicated to project management and another one to dissemination of project outcomes.
WP1 – Farm network on animal production sustainability and multi-actor approach
Through a multi-actor approach, WP1 aims to develop a common understanding and build up shared visions of future livestock farming. To achieve this, WP1 will capitalise on knowledge and practice of a large farm-network along with actors of the livestock value chain - from the beginning to the end of the project.
The tasks of WP1 are:
To carry out a characterisation of the case studies
To characterise benefit-cost portfolios and to identify sustainability issues and innovations
To characterise national level agricultural innovation systems using indicators of innovative capacity
To identify innovations that reduce trade-offs and build synergies at farm levels
WP2 - Indicator-based decision support system
led by Francesco Accatino at INRA
The goal of WP2 is to develop a science-based tool aimed at allowing animal production actors to assess the impact of innovations at different levels: farm, region, national and Europe. The decision support tool will be composed of an easy-to-use and easy-to-understand dashboard.
WP2 is composed of the following tasks:
Identification and selection of relevant basic indicators
Development of the decision support system
Implementation of the dashboard and integrated assessment of case-studies and scenarios
Multi-level interpretation of scenarios
WP3 - Farm-level benefit and cost assessment
led by Imke de Boer at WUR
WP3 will identify and assess feasible innovations that significantly increase the sustainability of animal production systems at farm level. For this purpose, whole farm simulation models are enhanced and applied to analyse changes in drivers and performance.
WP3 will carry out the following tasks:
Inventory of whole-farm simulation/optimisation models
Assessment of trade-offs and synergies by multi criteria whole-farm simulation models
Assessment of innovation scenarios at farm level and ranking of drivers
WP4 - Biophysical trade-off and synergy analysis at regional, national and EU levels
led by Karl-Heinz Erb at BOKU
The goal of WP4 is to assess biophysical benefit and cost portfolios resulting from innovations and interventions in the animal production sector at higher spatial scales. WP4 will adapt the Biomass Balance Model (BIOBAM) by Karlheinz Erb and colleagues of BOKU Vienna. It will enable a comprehensive assessment of sustainability in livestock farming by aggregating and contextualising data from the farm up to the European level.
WP4 is composed of the following tasks:
Development and mapping od an animal production system typology and efficiency metrics based on a comprehensive MEFA data collection at national level and for NUTS2 regions
Data collection related to GHG emissions, nitrogen flows, biodiversity and ecosystem services
Extension of the BIOBAM model towards environmental benefit/cost analysis
Exploration of trade-offs and synergies of innovations
WP5 - Outreach
led by Gerhard Dorfner at LfL
WP5 will make sure innovations identified in the project will reach their target audience and take effect. The project results will be customised to best suit the main actors of the livestock value chain – be they farmers, advisory services, science, policy or the general public. This will be achieved through a multi-actor approach with various outreach activities and bi-directional knowledge transfer between project scientists and all relevant stakeholders.
WP5 is composed of the following tasks:
Dissemination to the scientific community
Knowledge exchange, Know-how and technology transfer to actors
Make-sense and communicate effectively to policy makers on solutions for sustainability
Organise a summer school for young farmers and students
Communication to the general public
WP6 - Consortium coordination and project management
led by Muriel Tichit at INRA
WP6 will steer the project at strategic, operational and organisational level. The management will be flexible to enable its work programme to remain relevant throughout external events, whether scientific, technological, or even regulatory. It will be rigorous to ensure the project progresses in accordance with the work plan and the EC rules. It will be transparent to create trust within the partners.
WP6 is composed of the following tasks:
Administrative and financial support