Deliberative processes for comprehensive evaluation of agro-ecological models

Gianni Bellocchi, Mike Rivington, Marco Acutis


Biophysical models are acknowledged for examining interactions of agro-ecological systems and fostering communication between scientists, managers and the public. As the role of models grows in importance, there is an increase in the need to assess their quality and performance (Bellocchi et al., 2010). However, the heterogeneity of factors influencing model outputs makes it difficult a full assessment of model features. Where models are used with or for stakeholders then model credibility depends not only on the outcomes of well-structured statistical evaluation but also less tangible factors may need to be addressed using complementary deliberative processes. To expand our horizons in the evaluation of crop and grassland models, approaches have been reviewed with emphasis on using combined metrics. Comprehensive evaluation of simulation models was developed to integrate expectations of stakeholders via a weighting system where lower and upper fuzzy bounds are applied to a set of evaluation metrics. A questionnaire-based survey helped understanding the multi-faceted knowledge and experience required and the substantial challenges posed by the deliberative process. MACSUR knowledge hub holds potential to advance in good modelling practice in relation with model evaluation (including access to appropriate software tools), an activity which is frequently neglected in the context of time-limited projects.

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