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Research Nature, environment and climate

AU contributes to sustainable farming of the future

New visions and the setting of reference points for future agriculture are part of a research project in which AU is participating. The researchers will, amongst other things, develop advanced GIS-models, that combine environmental, economic and social impacts.

[Translate to English:] Ved brug af modelbaserede analyser vil forskere fra Aarhus Universitet i et nyt forskningsprojekt komme med scenarier og analyser for fremtidens landbrug i Danmark, men også på europæisk plan. Foto: Janne Hansen

Farming is under pressure on many fronts. An economic crisis has haunted the industry these last few years and weighed farmers down with debts. Meanwhile, the environmental demands on agriculture increased and the farmers are now set to play a key part in the efforts to secure more energy and food for a rapidly growing population.

This presents a lot of challenges to agriculture, and it is therefore important to consider the structure and scope of future agriculture, not least because of the pending reform of the EU common agricultural policy. This is what researchers at Aarhus and Copenhagen's universities and the Ecological Council hope to clarify in the research project, ”The Future of Agriculture: Scenarios for Sustainable Farming in Denmark”, which has received support from the Velux Foundation.

By using model-based analytics, researchers from Aarhus University want to present scenarios and analyses for future agriculture in Denmark, but also on a European scale.

The models consider environmental conditions, economics and social conditions in relation to a future sustainable agriculture.

- It is important to include the geographical structures in agriculture when you are setting up scenarios for the development of agriculture. The geography also has economic and environmental consequences, explains Tommy Dalgaard from Aarhus University. He continues:

- The geography is particularly important to consider when considering Danish conditions. Denmark has a heterogeneous agricultural structure where most of the production animals are in Jutland, while the cereal production is centred in the eastern parts of the country on some of the most fertile soils.

Researchers must, in collaboration with the other participants in the project, develop a usable tool for citizens, researchers, NGOs, agricultural organisations and decision-makers which can help create new visions and goals for future agriculture.

- Through model-based analyses we intend to describe the challenges to agriculture and give solutions that can minimise the cost to climate, nature and environment. At the same time the models and the data we put together will take into consideration a sustainable food supply and energy production. Eventually we hope, with this project, to contribute to the common European agricultural policy and its implementation on a national scale, explains Tommy Dalgaard.

The research project,”The Future of Agriculture: Scenarios for Sustainable Farming in Denmark”, runs until September 2015.

Further information: Senior scientist Tommy Dalgaard, Department of Agroecology, telephone: +45 8715 7746, email: tommy.dalgaard@agrsci.dk