Farmer in wheat field
Foto: Colourbox

Developing tools for a more climate friendly agricultural policy

How can agriculture cut greenhouse gas emissions and become more sustainable to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement? Ruralis is participating in a new project that will develop the necessary tools to achieve these targets.

European agricultural policy must contribute to achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement. A new generation of modelling tools are required to study the consequences of, and to provide a better basis for, decision-making. The newly established EU project – MIND STEP – funded by Horizon 2020 will develop such new tools.

Climate, sustainability and ecosystem services

– The European Commission has just adopted a new agricultural policy, “Farm to fork”. Through this the agricultural sector will contribute to the Green Deal; EU’s plan to make the economy sustainable and climate-neutral by 2050. Climate, sustainability, and ecosystem services are issues that are crucial in this plan. The new agricultural policy will to a greater extent consider local conditions and the individual farm, says researcher Klaus Mittenzwei in Ruralis.

Current decision support tools are not well adapted to Farm-to-Fork. MIND STEP will develop new models and decision tools that are sensitive to local effects and individual behavior at the farm level. At the same time, the models will provide results that are applicable at national and European level.

Takes into account the structure of agriculture

– Within the project, Ruralis will particularly explore the effects of farm structure in how agriculture – as a whole – adapts to changes in policy. Many models ignore the structure of agriculture when simulating effects of policy changes, says Klaus Mittenzwei.

The project will benefit from previous research projects. In particular, the Norwegian model Agrispace, which was developed by the Ruralis-led Norwegian Research Council project Agrispace, will be valuable in this respect. This is a model that has the capacity to explore connections between changes in policy and adaptations on individual farm level as well as at sectoral level. In the MIND STEP project, the Agrispace model will be used in developing models that better account for the effects of farm size in agricultural policy and climate policy. The models will provide authorities and politicians in Europe with a basis for more sound agricultural policy decisions considering the EU’s Green Deal.

MIND STEP is coordinated by Dr. John Helming at Wageningen University, The Netherlands, with nine partners from eight countries. The project started in 2019 and will be completed in 2023. Klaus Mittenzwei represents Ruralis in MIND STEP.