LiveM Modelling and Research Colloquium (14-16 October 2014)

Conference proceedings are now published here: Advances in Animal Biosciences.

Conference report

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The LiveM conference in Bilbao took place between 14th and 16th of October 2014 at the Maritime Museum on the banks of the Nervión-Ibaizabal estuary, bringing together around 45 MACSUR researchers from LiveM, CropM and TradeM, as well as representatives of ATF (Animal Task Force), EAAP (European Federation of Animal Science), the GRA Animal Health and GHG Emissions Intensity Network, AgMIP (Agricultural Modelling Improvement Programme) and the SOLID (Sustainable, Organic and Low Input Dairying) project.

The aims of the meeting were to showcase modelling research related to LiveM and MACSUR, to bring closer ties between partners and the external initiatives represented, and to hold discussions on the future direction and purpose of the theme as the MACSUR knowledge hub moves towards its second phase from 2015-2017.

Before the meeting began, farm-scale modellers met at the Basque Centre for Climate Change to discuss and synthesize the results of the farm-scale modelling exercise carried out over the summer, and the outcomes of this workshop were presented during the main conference.

Day 1 of the conference focussed on grassland and farm-scale modelling, two areas of expertise which will be brought closer together in MACSUR phase 2. Gary Lanigan (Teagasc) began the day with a keynote presentation which focussed on the value of modelling as a complement to experimental research. Gary’s talk focussed on the use of modelling in risk assessments of climate change and in verifying the consequences of management changes on carbon sequestration and N2O emissions, while highlighting the importance of models as decision support tools for farmers, and the need for the careful design of such instruments. Later, we heard from grassland modellers on the outcomes of their model inter-comparison work, including an interesting discussion of uncertainty in grassland modelling. Further presentations brought us the early results of the farm-scale modelling inter-comparison exercise, considered the impacts of management and systemic change at the regional scale and showed how modellers are developing and using models to support and provide advice to farmers and policy makers.

Bilbao poster webpage

Day 2 had the theme of Livestock productivity, and began with a keynote presentation by Martin Scholten (Wageningen UR) who laid out the challenges and opportunities facing the modelling community at the European and international scales, providing an important insight into the work and priorities of ATF. Subsequent presentations focussed on the impacts of environmental change on animal health, productivity and GHG emissions, including incorporating data on these effects into regional scale modelling in Austria. We also heard about the impact of different feeds on GHG emissions, as well as the importance of enteric fermentation in determining the efficiency with which feed is converted to energy by dairy cattle. Throughout the meeting, sixteen posters representing modelling work from within and beyond MACSUR provided further food for thoughts and discussion.

Eight discussion sessions preceded by introductory talks brought delegates together to debate issues of importance for the theme and the knowledge hub in general. Through these valuable sessions we explored issues such as the future of LiveM, the focus and relevance of our plans for the future, developing our links with external initiatives and projects, training, and the use of the MACSUR knowledge hub to attract funding for and to raise the profile of modelling activities. The outputs of these rich discussions will inform the development of the research community, and proved a valuable tool for stimulating thought and ideas for future research and approaches.

Check out the video summary of the meeting here:

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