Creating a dynamical farmer population model at country scale level.

V Beckers, (submitter)


Western Europe has a long agrarian history; shaping the landscape and the environment for centuries. In Belgium, high population density together with lack of spatial planning during the first half of the 20th century led to urbanization of the countryside. Due to limited availability of land and other socio-economic reasons, farmers were forced to either specialize and intensify, or quit. Total farmed area in contrast, only decreased slightly since 1980, resulting in increased average farm size. This is a trend that can be observed throughout Western Europe.The remaining farmers stay under pressure requiring constant adaptation and investment, resulting in continued agricultural land use changes.Understanding these significant trends and their impact on the land use and environment requires a deeper understanding on the mechanisms behind the decreasing number of farms and the impacts of different policy measures.To this effect, a farmer model (FarmMo) was created in order to gain insights into these trends and explore the effect of certain policy measures. The model works at the parcel scale and outputs the number of farms, the size of the farms and the crops on the fields.After calibration, a plausible evolution of farms, was obtained for a sub-region in Belgium.Further tests will prove whether the model continues to be reliable on the country scale level and will give more information on the reliability of the crop decisions process.The model will then allow to test the impact of different strategies for subsidizing agriculture (e.g. based on farms, farmers, area, crops) on farms and the farmer population.The presentation will describe the model, the results and the possibility for policy makers to use the model in their decision-making process.

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