Power, B. and Rodriguez, D. and deVoil, P. and Harris, G. and Payero, J. (2011) A multi-field bio-economic model of irrigated grain-cotton farming systems. Field Crops Research, 124 (2). pp. 171-179.
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Article Link(s): http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2011.03.018
Publisher URL: http://www.elsevier.com
We present a participatory modelling framework that integrates information from interviews and discussions with farmers and consultants, with dynamic bio-economic models to answer complex questions on the allocation of limited resources at the farm business level. Interviews and discussions with farmers were used to: describe the farm business; identify relevant research questions; identify potential solutions; and discuss and learn from the whole-farm simulations. The simulations are done using a whole-farm, multi-field configuration of APSIM (APSFarm). APSFarm results were validated against farmers' experience. Once the model was accepted by the participating farmers as a fair representation of their farm business, the model was used to explore changes in the tactical or strategic management of the farm and results were then discussed to identify feasible options for improvement. Here we describe the modelling framework and present an example of the application of integrative whole farm system tools to answer relevant questions from an irrigated farm business case study near Dalby (151.27E - 27.17S), Queensland, Australia. Results indicated that even though cotton crops generates more farm income per hectare a more diversified rotation with less cotton would be relatively more profitable, with no increase in risk, as a more cotton dominated traditional rotation. Results are discussed in terms of the benefits and constraints from developing and applying more integrative approaches to represent farm businesses and their management in participatory research projects with the aim of designing more profitable and sustainable irrigated farming systems.
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