The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Use of simulations to enhance knowledge integration and livestock producers’ adaptation to variability in the climate in northern Uruguay

H. Morales Grosskopf A G , J. F. Tourrand B , D. Bartaburu C , F. Dieguez A , P. Bommel D , J. Corral E , E. Montes C , M. Pereira A , E. Duarte C and P. Hegedus F
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Instituto Plan Agropecuario, Bvar Artigas 3802, Montevideo, Uruguay.

B CIRAD-Green, Campus international de Baillarguet 34398 Montpellier, Cedex 5-France.

C Instituto Plan Agropecuario, Amorim 55, Salto, Uruguay.

D CIRAD-CIRAD, UPR Green, F-34398 Montpellier, France and Universidade PUC Rio, LES, Dept. Informática, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

E Universidad de la República Facultad de Ingeniería Instituto de Computación. J. Herrera y Reissig 565, Montevideo, Uruguay.

F Universidad de la República Facultad de Agronomía. Garzón 780, Montevideo, Uruguay.

G Corresponding author. Email: hmorales@planagropecuario.org.uy

The Rangeland Journal 37(4) 425-432 https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ14063
Submitted: 11 May 2014  Accepted: 16 June 2015   Published: 16 July 2015

Abstract

Basaltic soils have an extremely reduced capacity to accumulate water in Uruguay where they occupy 3.5 m ha (25% of the area of Uruguay) and are mainly exploited by extensive cattle production systems. Drought can have a negative effect on forage growth and cattle production and can have a devastating impact on the economy of livestock producers, and damage the entire beef-supply chain. To improve the livestock producers ability to adapt to climate variability, the past effects of droughts were modelled to understand the dynamics of droughts at the level of the production unit through the development of an interactive agent-based simulation model. The simulator was constructed in four steps by simulating: (i) forage growth using a logistic growth equation calibrated with data originated from the Moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite, (ii) the life cycle of livestock, (iii) the interaction between forage and livestock, and (iv) different strategies of management. Outputs of simulations were explored in five workshops with 82 livestock farmers and development actors. In these workshops, both biophysical models and those related to farm management were recognised as valid, and the typologies used were identified as realistic. Through the workshops and discussions about the models, the producers’ understanding of droughts was investigated. It was found that two types of information were important in encouraging better adaptation: (i) information that allowed a better understanding of the complex system and (ii) information that supported action. The workshops were found to valuable in generating a motivation to analyse and discuss climate variability.

Additional keywords: cattle production, complex systems, modelling, native grasslands, rangeland management.


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