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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri

OPTINORFARM - Economic and Environmental Optimization of Norwegian Farms

Alternative title: OPTINORFARM - Økonomisk og miljømessig optimering på norske gårdsbruk

Awarded: NOK 2.8 mill.

Dairy and meat products are essential food in the diet of many people. The production of this food originates at cattle farms, where farmers need to make many decisions, for example about how to use their land, how many animals to grow, and how to feed the cattle. On one hand, these decisions must look for economically convenient ways to run a farm, so it can be a viable business for farmers. On another hand, these decisions must also consider the environmental impact, as farm activities produce greenhouse gas emissions. Considering both economic and environmental criteria is a challenge for the farmers.The main objective of this project it to develop optimization models and methods to support decision-making at Norwegian farms, considering simultaneously economic and environmental goals. To this aim, the project deploys a collaboration between research organizations and industry partners, combining technical expertise on multiple disciplines (such as mathematical modeling, computational optimization, animal science, and farm management) with practical knowledge from main stakeholders in the dairy, meet and agriculture sectors. This collaboration will actively look for case studies to test the optimization models and methods in real farms, involving farm advisors and end users. Ultimately, the project seek to expand the access to decision support for farmers in Norway, and help them meet environmental goals in a profitable manner, which in turn will contribute to the development of Norway as a food-producing nation.

Dairy and beef production are some of the most important activities in Norwegian agriculture. Securing production in a cost-efficient and sustainable manner is one of the main challenges of this industrial sector. Hence, for Norway to fulfil greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals while keeping the economic viability of farms, it is essential to develop tools to help farmers to utilize their resources efficiently. OPTINORFARM is a project that develops models and methods for cattle farm optimization, which simultaneously incorporate economic and environmental criteria into the decision making process of the farmers. The project addresses both conventional and organic farming systems, subject to the specific features of the Norwegian agriculture, such as the subsidy scheme for farmers in Norway. OPTINORFARM combines scientific expertise on Operations Research (the discipline that deals with the application of advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions), Farm Management & Bioeconomics, Animal Sciences & the Environment, with the practical knowledge of partners coming from the main stakeholders in the Norwegian dairy, beef and cattle feeding industry. This unique blending in a multidisciplinary team, will secure that the outcomes of this project are technically founded and closely adjusted to the real context of Norwegian farms. Moreover, the project proposes to implement the optimization models and methods into computational tools to form the basis of a decision support system framework for farmers, to help them improve profitability while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is remarkable that, despite all the initiatives to encourage environmentally friendly production in agriculture, the explicit incorporation of environmental objectives in optimization models is in its early stage. Thus, approaches to address the environmental objectives simultaneously with the economic objectives are urgently needed, and OPTINORFARM comes to bridge this gap.

Funding scheme:

FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri