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Simulation of farming operations in ALMaSS

Farming is the major land-use in Denmark. Farming is therefore a significant element in the landscape model. Simulation capabilities include:

  • Identification and independent management of all farm units in the landscape.
  • Classification of farms into predefined farm types (e.g. conventional pig farm, organic cattle farm).
  • Farm type specific rotations and crop area allocations.
  • Detailed crop management comprising of individually tailored management plans for each crop built up from 50 different potential farming operations.
  • Feedback from farming operations to crop growth, weed biomass and insect biomass in the fields.

Farm management is controlled via the Farm class inside ALMaSS. Documentation for this class can be found by searching the overall ALMaSS ODdox and more directly here.

Crop Management Plans

These consist of timed events (e.g. ploughing), together with conditions under which the event can take place.

These conditions may relate to probabilities, weather, crop growth, soil type or previous farming. For example ploughing can only take place if the ground is not frozen and if there has not been too much rain (depending upon soil type).

A crop management plan thus consists of a list of farm activities, times when they can take place together with probabilities of carrying out the activity and any conditions attached. The result is a highly realistic pattern of farming activities related to each specific, crop, farm, and field. 

Documentation for examples of crop management plans can be searching the overall ALMaSS ODdox and also directly here.

Farm events feed back to the vegetation and animals

Whenever the farmer does anything to a field, that event is recorded for that field. Operations which directly effect vegetation (e.g. herbicide application), are dealt with directly, but all operations potentially impact animals. Hence animals can always respond to farming activities going on at their location (e.g. mechanical weeding destroying skylark nests).

A central concept in ALMaSS is that these events are locally based - so an animal is affected by events that happen in its location and time frame when it is present.

A second concept is that links between events are described as mechanisms giving rise to complex responses. For example stopping spraying of insecticides increases the abundance of insect food biomass in cereal crops, but the fact that the farmer does not spray means that there are fewer tramlines in the crop which allow skylarks access to the food. The net result may be no positive impact on the skylark.