Global climate change will lead to shifts in climate behavior and could cause severe impacts on ecosystems in the next decades (IPCC 2001). In particular, climate change will have significant effects on agricultural production. Negative climate-change impacts on agriculture could be avoided or reduced significantly by taking appropriate decisions, which can be based on the available crop-growth simulation models, as well as on forecasts and climate scenarios (Adams et al. 1998; Hoogenboom 2000).
There are several climate modeling tools currently available. For the long-term (decades) assessments, global circulation models (GCMs) compute several scenarios of the future climate behavior, which have been considered adequate, although those scenarios must be downscaled to smaller areas for practical applications. For short-term, seasonal-forecasts according to El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) behaviors, as well as other sources of climate variability, are also available (Doblas-Reyes et al. 2006). These scenarios and forecasts can be downscaled by weather generators, regional climate models and other methods, to reflect local climatic conditions (Wilby and Wigley 2001). Besides, mechanistic crop-growth simulation models can effectively estimate crop yields, as well as yield risk, under any climate conditions (Hoogenboom 2000).
There are many reports of agricultural global-change impact-assessments based on simulation modeling. Tubiello and Ewert (2002) summarize more than 100 such assessments, made worldwide. Likewise, Alexandrov (2002) provided a large review of model applications in Europe. However, most of those research results remain still as theoretical assessments and they have not led to successful agricultural decision-making applications.
The producers of climate-forecasts, downscaling techniques and crop-growth models are often not aware about the actual needs of small and medium agricultural enterprises and they may not know what mitigation strategies these farmers can undertake to adapt to global climate change consequences. Moreover, the reliable agricultural decisions depend on many local issues that are beyond the higher level researcher context. On the other hand, farmers usually do not know how to interpret the management implications of presently-available climate forecasts, usually written in a probabilistic language.
Nevertheless, current research results on climate-change impacts on agriculture can be relatively easily introduced for local decision-making, if the relevant institutions and people are involved. Likewise, as pointed out by Hansen (2002), engaging relevant institutions in all phases of agricultural climate-impact assessments is crucial for the long-term success of these assessments. For example, the significant climate-forecast applications in agricultural decision-making, as done in Australia (Hammer et al. 2001) and in the U.S. (Jagtap et al. 2002), have been achieved only by the joint effort of highlevel researchers and technicians from agricultural extension services (Meinke et al. 2001; Hansen 2002).
Experts and researchers at well-known research centers in Europe and other places (referred hereafter as "developers") have established a significant know-how and produced relevant tools for such climate-impacts studies. But practical experts at local agricultural research centers as well as agricultural advisers (referred hereafter as "users") who should apply these tools for agricultural decision-making, are often not aware about the availability of such tools or their access to such tools is quite limited due to several reasons, as financial issues or lack of user-friendly design of tools.
A connection is needed between the "developers" and "users", to improve decisionmaking by better implementing this know-how and model tools. Furthermore, feedback from the end-users to the developers is a prerequisite for improving these tools for their practical use e.g. by providing background information, setting up the actual input data needs, fitting time and spatial scales as required by specific applications and other similar issues.
In that context AGRIDEMA, a new Specific Support Action (SSA), has been funded by the EU Sixth Framework Program from January 2005 to June 2007. AGRIDEMA comprises researchers from Spain, Austria and Bulgaria. The SSA aims to promote a research network, linking European developers with the potential users of their research results.
Mediterranean countries could face the highest negative consequences of global warming within Europe, through water-shortage and crop-water requirements increments (Olesen and Bindi 2002). Besides, since climate-change and extreme events effects could be more serious in countries with less-developed agriculture (IPCC 2001), the EU associated countries from central and eastern Europe, with relative reduced technological capacities, would be more affected than northern-European countries. Therefore, AGRIDEMA will focus on southern, central and eastern Europe, as well as on the countries of the Mediterranean area.
AGRIDEMA comprises the following specific objectives:
1. To identify European experts who developed, improved and tested simulating tools such as GCMs, seasonal forecasts, regional downscaling techniques and agricultural-impact simulation models and invite them to participate in the SSA proposal activities for implementing their tools and know-how.
2. To identify and undertake appropriate SSA activities with potential users of the modeling tools. They must be related to agricultural decision-making and to climate-risk assessments and located in central, eastern and southern Europe, as well as in the countries of the Mediterranean area. These users will learn and become familiar with the techniques, their needs for applying these tools will be identified and feedback will be provided to the developers.
3. To conduct short courses, where the invited developers will present the important aspects of their developed or validated tools to the invited users coming from central, eastern and southern Europe, as well as from the Mediterranean countries.
4. To perform pilot collaborations between developers and users from central, eastern and southern Europe, as well as from the Mediterranean countries, under the supervision of the SSA. Direct collaborations, out of SSA consortium supervision, would be welcome as well.
5. To disseminate the results obtained and to build up a wider consortium, comprising both, the developers of the simulating tools and the potential users of such tools (e.g. experts from regional agricultural-oriented research centers, advisers and farmers).
According to these objectives, several tasks or "work packages" were included in AGRIDEMA. The tasks can be seen in Fig. 24.1 and several reports have been scheduled as well. Three of these reports will be in public domain and will refer to the "State of Art" of climate and crop-growth modeling tools concerning their practical applications to agricultural decision-making, under climate change conditions.
As can be seen from the AGRIDEMA specific objectives and the corresponding tasks, contacts will be made with developers of both climate and crop-growth modeling tools. Invitations to join AGRIDEMA will be sent to well known European centers, where GCM outputs, seasonal forecasts, downscaling techniques and crop-growth simulation models are available. As a result of these contacts, short-courses and demonstrations will be arranged with those developers interested in applying their developed tools. AGRIDEMA would bring to model developers a good opportunity to introduce their models in a wide community of potential users. A final report comprising all the final agreements with developers will be written by the SSA partners.
Fig. 24.1. AGRIDEMA work packages and general schedule
Contacting "developers" of climate and crop models
Call to modeling "users"application
Pilot assessments to be conducted under AGRIDEMA funding and supervision
Papers, congress presentations, etc.
1 Web page, meetings with farmers, media publications
International Workshop in Valladolid (May-June 2007) launching an European developer-user network
An AGRIDEMA participation call will be launched among the potential users. Since there is a geographical complementarity between the participating institutions, the Spanish Coordinator will seek possible participants for SSA-activities from southern Europe and the Mediterranean countries, whereas the Austrian and Bulgarian partners will do the same concerning the potential participants from central and eastern Europe, respectively.
The requisites of expected AGRIDEMA users are:
a To be able to communicate in English and to be able to work with data management software (Windows, Excel, etc.). b To be involved with local agricultural decision-making, advising and farming in the regions of southeast, southwest and middle Europe including non-European Mediterranean countries.
c To be aware of the potential benefits of agricultural decision modeling tools, be able to identify which agricultural management options should be change and how to optimize management and reduce climate risks in local agricultural production. d To make available data for the training course and for the potential SSA pilot assessments (crop growth and yields, meteorological variables, soil properties, irrigation and crop management scheduling, etc.).
Additionally, users conducting PhD studies in the same subjects of AGRIDEMA activities will receive a special consideration for participating in the project.
The AGRIDEMA partners must write a final report about their effort in contacting the users. The report will point out which users were finally selected and why. Since this would be probably the first European attempt for encompassing developers and users, concerning agricultural climate-change impact assessments, the report will serve as a guide for future efforts in identifying potential users of the European tools available for such assessments.
Several users will be selected among the course participants in order to conduct "pilot assessments". The content, objectives, goals of the pilot assessments have to be judged by the SSA partners under the agreement of the developers and users. The content of the pilot assessment should cover the topic of the AGRIDEMA project and to be problem-oriented. Assessments addressed to evaluate extreme-event risks in agriculture, using the climate and crop-growth modeling tools, are particularly encouraged. The AGRIDEMA pilot assessments should evaluate irrigation, land use or crop-management options under local conditions, which could be useful (or not) in case of climate risks. Furthermore, pilot assessments will point out the advantages or constraints of the modeling tools applied, the improvement needed as well as potential benefits of the results obtained for agricultural decision-making.
The results obtained through AGRIDEMA should be disseminated as much as possible. An SSA-related web will be created, where the results obtained will be posted to provide access to the international audience and a discussion forum will be opened through the web, promoting contacts between developers and users in the framework of a European network.
AGRIDEMA comprises also an international workshop, to be held in Spain, where the SSA results will be presented. All the institutions directly involved in the SSA activities will participate in the workshop. Furthermore, other relevant institutions in volved in developing agricultural decision-making under global-change conditions will be invited to attend the workshop. A European network, concerning the development and regular use of modeling tools, as a way to provide successful agricultural decision-making under global-change conditions, will be launched during the workshop. The state-of-the-art research will be presented in the workshop and priorities for future research will be identified.
Through the network modeling tools in agricultural decision-making will be introduced to a wide non-scientific but stakeholder audience. The goal is to show to these institutions and associations how the modeling tools can help in taking appropriate decisions to mitigate the agricultural climate-risks.
According to the AGRIDEMA timetable, the partners are involved in their first task, i.e. contacting developers, although some users have already been contacted. Several developers or sponsors of remarkable climate and crop-growth modeling tools have been already contacted. Many of them participated in AGRIDEMA activities and gave lectures in the courses held in Vienna, from 21 November to 2 December 2005. Positive answers to AGRIDEMA invitations have been received from the DEMETER multimodel ensemble (Doblas-Reyes et al. 2006); the LARS-WG weather generator (Semenov and Barrow 2002) and the WOFOST crop-growth model (Van Ittersum et al. 2003) groups; among others. Besides, European sponsors of DSSAT (Jones et al. 2003) and CROPSYST (Stockle et al. 2003) models were in Vienna. Several other climate and crop-growth model developers are scheduled to be contacted. The final list of developers participating in AGRIDEMA activities is now ready.
Potential user institutions interested in attending the AGRIDEMA courses and eventually conduct "pilot assessments" have been identified. Institutions from Spain, Italy, Greece, Morocco and Egypt are already being evaluated as potential AGRIDEMA users.
Despite the possibility of being directly involved in AGRIDEMA activities from both developer and user sides, the SSA partners encourage all the potentially interested people to contact us. AGRIDEMA is an attempt to reduce the gap between people involved in climate and crop-growth modeling efforts and their potential users. It is a right step to make available the current modeling tools to assist in local agricultural decision-making, which is consistent with the CLIMAG goals.
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