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Dealing with Uncertainty in Agent-Based Simulation: Farm-Level Modeling of Adaptation to Climate Change in Southwest Germany


  • Christian Troost
  • Thomas Berger


Climate change will most likely confront agricultural producers with natural, economic, and political conditions that have not previously been observed and are largely uncertain. As a consequence, extrapolation from past data reaches its limits, and a process-based analysis of farmer adaptation is required. Simulation of changes in crop yields using crop growth models is a first step in that direction. However, changes in crop yields are only one pathway through which climate change affects agricultural production. A meaningful process-based analysis of farmer adaptation requires a whole-farm analysis at the farm level. We use a highly disaggregated mathematical programming model to analyze farm-level climate change adaptation for a mountainous area in southwest Germany. Regional-level results are obtained by simulating each full-time farm holding in the study area. We address parameter uncertainty and model underdetermination using a cautious calibration approach and a comprehensive uncertainty analysis. We deal with the resulting computational burden using efficient experimental designs and high-performance computing. We show that in our study area, shifted crop management time slots can have potentially significant effects on agricultural supply, incomes, and various policy objectives promoted under German and European environmental policy schemes. The simulated effects are robust against model uncertainty and underline the importance of a comprehensive assessment of climate change impacts beyond merely looking at crop yield changes. Our simulations demonstrate how farm-level models can contribute to a process-based analysis of climate change adaptation if they are embedded into a systematic framework for treating inherent model uncertainty.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Troost & Thomas Berger, 2015. "Dealing with Uncertainty in Agent-Based Simulation: Farm-Level Modeling of Adaptation to Climate Change in Southwest Germany," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 97(3), pages 833-854.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ajagec:v:97:y:2015:i:3:p:833-854.

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    Cited by:

    1. Djanibekov, Utkur & Finger, Robert, 2015. "The effects of variability under farm land consolidation process: A perspective of cotton-growing farmers in Uzbekistan," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211829, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. Feuerbacher, A. & Grethe, H., 2018. "Implications of the seasonality of labour for rural livelihoods and agricultural supply response," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 276009, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Thomas Berger & Christian Troost & Tesfamicheal Wossen & Evgeny Latynskiy & Kindie Tesfaye & Sika Gbegbelegbe, 2017. "Can smallholder farmers adapt to climate variability, and how effective are policy interventions? Agent-based simulation results for Ethiopia," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 48(6), pages 693-706, November.
    4. Carauta, M. & Guzman-Bustamante, I. & Meurer, K. & Hampf, A. & Troost, C. & Rodrigues, R. & Berger, T., 2018. "Assessing the full distribution of greenhouse gas emissions from crop, livestock and commercial forestry plantations in Brazil's Southern Amazon," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277118, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    5. Utomo, Dhanan Sarwo & Onggo, Bhakti Stephan & Eldridge, Stephen, 2018. "Applications of agent-based modelling and simulation in the agri-food supply chains," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 269(3), pages 794-805.
    6. Amadou, Mahamadou L. & Villamor, Grace B. & Kyei-Baffour, Nicholas, 2018. "Simulating agricultural land-use adaptation decisions to climate change: An empirical agent-based modelling in northern Ghana," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 196-209.
    7. Schmidt, Alena & Mack, Gabriele & Möhring, Anke & Mann, Stefan & El Benni, Nadja, 2019. "Stricter cross-compliance standards in Switzerland: Economic and environmental impacts at farm- and sector-level," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 176(C).
    8. Wossen, Tesfamicheal & Berger, Thomas & Haile, Mekbib G. & Troost, Christian, 2018. "Impacts of climate variability and food price volatility on household income and food security of farm households in East and West Africa," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 7-15.
    9. Evgeny Latynskiy & Thomas Berger, 2017. "Assessing the Income Effects of Group Certification for Smallholder Coffee Farmers: Agent-based Simulation in Uganda," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 727-748, September.
    10. Huber, Robert & Bakker, Martha & Balmann, Alfons & Berger, Thomas & Bithell, Mike & Brown, Calum & Grêt-Regamey, Adrienne & Xiong, Hang & Le, Quang Bao & Mack, Gabriele & Meyfroidt, Patrick & Millingt, 2018. "Representation of decision-making in European agricultural agent-based models," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 143-160.
    11. Otto, Ilona M. & Wiedermann, Marc & Cremades, Roger & Donges, Jonathan F. & Auer, Cornelia & Lucht, Wolfgang, 2020. "Human agency in the Anthropocene," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 167(C).
    12. Mandryk, Maryia & Reidsma, Pytrik & van Ittersum, Martin K., 2017. "Crop and farm level adaptation under future climate challenges: An exploratory study considering multiple objectives for Flevoland, the Netherlands," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 154-164.
    13. Reidsma, Pytrik & Bakker, Martha M. & Kanellopoulos, Argyris & Alam, Shah J. & Paas, Wim & Kros, Johannes & de Vries, Wim, 2015. "Sustainable agricultural development in a rural area in the Netherlands? Assessing impacts of climate and socio-economic change at farm and landscape level," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 160-173.
    14. Djanibekov, Utkur & Finger, Robert, 2018. "Agricultural risks and farm land consolidation process in transition countries: The case of cotton production in Uzbekistan," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 223-235.

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