Integrated crop-livestock simulation models for scenario analysis and impact assessment

P. K. Thornton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite the fact that many smallholder farming systems in developing countries revolve around the interactions of crop and livestock enterprises, the modelling of these systems using combinations of detailed crop and livestock models is comparatively under-developed. A wide variety of separate crop and livestock models exists, but the nature of crop–livestock interactions, and their importance in smallholder farming systems, makes their integration difficult. Even where there is adequate understanding of the biophysical processes involved, integrated crop–livestock models may be constrained by lack of reliable data for calibration and validation. The construction from scratch of simulation models that meet the needs of one particular case is generally too costly to countenance. As for all modelling activity, the most efficient way to proceed depends on the nature of the systems under study and the precise questions that have to be addressed. We outline a framework for the integration of detailed biophysical crop and livestock simulation models. We highlight the need for minimum calibration and validation data sets, and conclude by listing various research problems that need attention. The application of robust and trustworthy crop–livestock models is critical for furthering the research agenda associated with animal agriculture in the tropics and subtropics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-602
Number of pages22
JournalAgricultural systems
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Crop–livestock interactions
  • Model; Simulation
  • Economic surplus
  • Decision-support systems


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