5th AgMIP Global Workshop Report

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Download a pdf of the summary workshop report here

Payne Jack Payne, Senior Vice President of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida opened the workshop.

agmipPIs AgMIP Co-PIs left to right, James W. Jones, Cynthia Rosenzweig, John Antle, and Jerry Hatfield

“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow,” Jack Payne, Senior Vice President of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida, recommended in his opening address to more than 200 scientists convened for AgMIP5 – the 5th Global Workshop of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) on February 25, 2015. The Fleetwood Mac quote exemplified what he hoped the agricultural, climate, and economic modelers before him would consider as they discussed results and future research at Emerson Alumni Hall in Gainesville. Over the next three days participants from 31 countries and more than 100 institutions around the globe participated in plenary and breakout sessions with the goal of improving assessments of future agriculture and food security.

“One reason we are having this workshop is that we don’t necessarily agree on how to design the best tool,” continued Payne. “You each specialize in modeling particular components. We need to integrate those models to simultaneously account for climate, soil, pests, water and all the other factors that go into raising food for a hungry planet.”

AgMIP is a global community of scientists modeling impacts of climate change and other stresses on agricultural systems and food security. It has developed standard methods of research using the latest technology to link climate, crop and economic models to simulate the vulnerabilities of, and adaptive strategies for, regional agricultural systems. These assessments provide information about future crop yields and economic conditions, such as income and poverty rates, which can help agricultural decision-makers plan for the future. In addition AgMIP teams have formed to intercompare and improve global gridded models, global economic models, crop specific models – including new efforts to incorporate pests, diseases, biofuels and other components of agricultural systems.

AgMIP5 was preceded by an AgMIP workshop on Pests and Diseases, and followed by an AgMIP workshop on Regional Research underway in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In addition, two special sessions were held prior to the official AgMIP5 start. An Introduction to AgMIP session was led by Alex Ruane, AgMIP Science Coordinator and Climate Co-Leader, together with other AgMIP Co-Leaders in Stakeholder Interactions, Economics, and Crops to provide newcomers with information about the organization and activities that have been evolving since AgMIP’s inception in 2010. In addition a Stakeholder Interaction session was led by Wendy-Lin Bartels and Amy Sullivan – Co-Leaders of AgMIP’s new Stakeholder Liaison unit – to inform underway planning for AgMIP’s second phase of regional research, supported by UK aid’s Department for International Development (DFID).

agmip5plenary Plenary session at AgMIP5

After Payne’s inspirational launch of the workshop, the four AgMIP Co-Principal Investigators Cynthia Rosenzweig, James W. Jones, Jerry Hatfield and John Antle welcomed the group. Two keynotes followed, the first by Ghassem Asrar, who serves as AgMIP Steering Council Co-Chair, on major challenges for society.

“AgMIP and its network of international experts have established a solid science foundation for assessing the impacts of climate variability and change on agricultural systems and food security in less than a decade,” commented Asrar. He continued, “The AgMIP regional focus on assessing the risks and resiliency of the agricultural systems to the combined effects of environment socioeconomic, and other human factors will be of great interest to a broader community of stakeholders in the ensuing decade.”

DiscussionP Ghassem Asrar (left) and Martin van Ittersum (right)

Ngwenya Hlami Ngwenya, South Africa, AgMIP Stakeholder Liaison Team member

JHoward Julie Howard addresses the plenary session

Steering Council Member Martin van Ittersum, Wageningen University then provided a second keynote addressing major challenges for the modeling community.

Following the keynotes the session focused on the current state of AgMIP research, organization and planning with talks by Rosenzweig and leaders of a number of AgMIP research groups.

Thursday, February 26, began with a morning devoted to exploring the topic of next generation knowledge products, models and data. A keynote by Antle and Stanley Wood (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) on Next Generation (NextGen) Knowledge Products and Models informed parallel breakout groups that met immediately after. The groups discussed questions and use cases provided in the agenda about NextGen models, data and information technology from the point of view of five different use cases ranging from farm extension workers in Africa advising smallholder farms, to management consultants working with commercial operations using precision agriculture.

In the afternoon workshop participants shifted gears and considered models, tools and linkages for sustainable farming systems. Hatfield introduced the afternoon’s goals that included developing plans for an integrated framework to model sustainable agriculture systems, interaction between AgMIP and other initiatives, stakeholder interaction process, and activities for the coming year. Steering Council members Julie Howard (Food Security Expert Consultant) and Peter Craufurd (CIMMYT), gave keynote presentations on stakeholder needs and modeling for sustainable farming systems. The group then divided into 6 breakout teams that discussed questions pertaining to sustainable farming at different scales. (See agenda)

“AgMIP can help define the basic metrics – what constitutes a sustainable system? How can we measure the sustainability of mixed crop-livestock systems, and measure and include ecosystem services and nutritional impacts in more traditional agricultural systems models?” posed Howard.

An evening reception on Thursday included poster viewing and the launch of the just-published two-part volume “Handbook of Climate Change and Agroecosystems: The Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) Integrated Crop and Economic Assessments”. Part One of the Handbook presents an overview of AgMIP, the new methods for the regional integrated assessments, and describes some of AgMIP’s other initiatives including global gridded modeling, simulation of crop pests and diseases, site-based crop-climate sensitivity studies, and scaling. Part Two highlights the results of the AgMIP Regional Research Teams in Sub-Saharan African and South Asia using the new methods. (See posters and abstracts here)

Friday, February 27th, was structured around the theme of coordinated global and regional assessments. The day’s goals were to share results, identify requirements to integrate across scales, and develop strategies to include factors not currently included in assessments. Three keynotes started the day; John Porter, AgMIP Steering Council, spoke about where we go after AR5. Ex Officio Steering Council Members Steve Shafer (USDA-ARS) and Alessandro Moscuzza (UK aid-DFID), then addressed stakeholder needs for global and regional assessments. Regional breakouts followed where participants discussed questions related to the state of agricultural modeling in their regions. (See agenda)

We need other means to talk to policy people than using simulation models,” explained John R. Porter in his keynote. “Policy people are interested in questions such as changes in the frequency of damaging events, how much it will cost, how many people will be affected – current simulation models struggle to provide this information. Using methods that extract the essential messages out of models will help us form a bridge from models to policy.

On Friday afternoon the participants discussed the development of a position statement and then broke into AgMIP work groups organized by discipline. The groups used the time to discuss components required for coordinated regional and global studies, identify the flow of useful information, interact among disciplines and scales to ensure fruitful linkages and compare messages from various regional assessments.

Breakout-DIscusssionDilys MacCarthy (left), West African Regional Research Team PI, contributes to discussion with Angela Kong, Paolo Colangelo, and Patricia Masikati, Co-PI of the Southern Africa Livestock Regional Research Team.

On Friday evening a group of participants attended a hands-on demo of FACE-IT, an NSF-sponsored Framework to Advance Climate, Economic, and Impact Investigations with Information Technology led by Cheryl Porter, AgMIP IT leader, and Joshua Elliott, AgGRID leader. FACE-IT developers have created applications and workflows to assist modelers with their simulations.

PosterViewing Moorea Brega and Sander Janssen at Reception and Poster Session.

Plenary2 Piara Singh, Davide Camarano and Wiltrud Durand in the Regional Research Teams meeting.

Saturday morning the AgMIP workgroups met once again to wrap up their planning for the coming year. The concluding workshop plenary session included reflections from Jean-François Soussana, AgMIP Steering Council Co-Chair, and AgMIP’s four Co-PIs discussing what was learned and plans for the future.

“The Global Workshop provided the AgMIP community with the opportunity to set three main priorities for the next three years,” Rosenzweig said of AgMIP5. “Developing next generation models and knowledge products, pathways to sustainable farming systems, and coordinated global and regional integrated assessments of climate change and food security.”

Following AgMIP5, and a birthday celebration for Jim Jones, a special session on AgMIP regional research in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia convened. Regional Research Team (RRT) members and available AgMIP Steering Council members learned about improvements to AgMIP Protocols for Regional Integrated Assessments, led by Ruane, and plans for Research in regions, led by PIs of the RRTs. The following morning, the RRTs, PIs and Leaders continued with an intensive work session to advance planning and actions for the next phase of work in the regions.

“It is impressive to see how vibrant the AgMIP community is and what is emerging in this bottom-up initiative with a minimum of bureaucracy,” commented Steering Council Member Martin van Ittersum.

AgMIP5 and its related workshops proved to be a successful platform for “thinking about tomorrow” – combining people and models to anticipate food security for a world of 9 billion.