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What is the balance between animal production and sustainable grassland utilization in grassland-based suckler systems? A modelling approach of the management-herd-resources interactions.

Magali Jouven
Abstract : The viability of grassland-based systems depends on their ability to produce meat from forage harvested onfarm; their environmental sustainability is connected to floristic diversity-friendly utilization of grassland. The objective of this thesis was to understand the decisive factors of animal production and sustainable utilization of grassland, based on a multi-scale analysis of interactions between herd and grassland resources. Therefore, we constructed and used a whole-farm simulation model reproducing the steady-state functioning of grassland-based suckler farms. The model is based on the interfacing of an animal sub-model with a vegetation sub-model, both adapted from existing models and validated on experimental data. A management sub-model, based on the literature and three farm surveys, and validated by experts, manages the interactions between herd and grassland resources. With the model, we simulated the balance between animal production and sustainable grassland utilization in three farms differing in their structure and their production objectives. We applied increasing levels of biodiversity friendly management rules (late hay harvest, lenient grazing). Model predictions highlighted the dominating role of the balance between animal stocking rate and grassland productivity. Management also played a role, by influencing the dynamic interactions between herd and grassland. At intermediate levels of application, the management rules tested enabled to maintain animal production while improving the sustainable use of grassland. Sensitivity to these management rules differed between simulated farms. Other farm structure and management scenarios can be investigated. The model can be used in synergy with economic models or biological models at finer scales. Its inputs and outputs will be discussed with extension services to assess their applicability to field conditions.
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Submitted on : Thursday, March 22, 2007 - 8:00:00 AM
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Magali Jouven. What is the balance between animal production and sustainable grassland utilization in grassland-based suckler systems? A modelling approach of the management-herd-resources interactions.. Life Sciences [q-bio]. INAPG (AgroParisTech), 2006. English. ⟨NNT : 2006INAP0018⟩. ⟨pastel-00002272⟩

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