Designing decision support tools for targeted N-regulation: Experiences from developing and using the Danish dNmark landscape model

Andreas Aagaard Christensen, Kristoffer Piil, Peter Stubkjær Andersen, Erling Andersen, Henrik Vejre

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportKonferenceabstrakt i proceedingsForskningpeer review


Background and aims:Regulation of nitrate emission from agriculture to aquatic environments in Denmark currently depend on general rules for nutrient application and associated farm-level reporting schemes. Similar or comparable instruments based on centralized regulation of N-management exist in large parts of the OECD. Recently the Danish authorities proposed to shift the scale of regulation to a more local level to better fit relevant socio-political and agro-environmental processes, including the scale of farmers’ decision making, the scale of relevant hydrological systems and the scale of key agro-ecological conditions such as soil characteristics and drainage. However, the challenge of shifting the focus of the regulation to a more local scale raises a number of questions. These include (1) How information produced locally can be integrated with national scale data? (2) In what way integrated datasets can be stored and used to model environmental effects of current and possible land use patterns? (3) In what way data and estimates of consequences of land use changes are best made available in decision making processes? To address these questions this study reports on ongoing work in Denmark to develop and improve a functioning decision support tool for landscape scale N-management. The aim of the study is to evaluate how a decision support tool can best be designed in order to enable landscape scale strategic N-management practices.Methods:A prototype GIS-tool for capturing, storing, editing, displaying and modelling landscape scale farming practices and associated emission consequences was developed. The tool was designed to integrate locally held knowledge with national scale datasets in live scenario situations through the implementation of a flexible, uniform and editable data model for land use data – the dNmark landscape model. Based on input data which is corrected and edited by workshop participants, the tool estimates the effect of potential land use scenarios on nutrient emissions. The tool was tested in 5 scenario workshops in case areas in Denmark in 2016, on the basis of which its design is evaluated and discussed.Results and conclusions:Based on our experiences we found that four elements are of particular importance when designing decision support tools for landscape scale N-management. These represent tasks that the tool should aid in resolving and include: (1) The formulation of an inclusive, socially acceptable common understanding of current land use patterns, conditions for production and effects on the environment among the stakeholders present; (2) Successful and appropriate handling of errors and imprecisions in the data being presented through provision of an on-the-fly editing environment, (3) The provision of an easily used and agile scenario-formulation option able to compare scenarios with the baseline situation; (4) Clear communication of the status and authority of the expertise that the tool introduces into the local setting relative to local knowledge. These and associated findings are discussed and it is outlined how the findings can contribute to the design of decision support tools. Based on recent research in the fields of collaborative planning and landscape ecology, the conceptual basis of an improved tool-design is discussed.Acknowledgements:Part-funded by The Danish Council for Strategic Research.
TitelInnovative solutions for sustainable management of nitrogen : Conference proceedings
Antal sider1
ForlagAarhus Universitet
ISBN (Trykt)978-87-93398-82-5
StatusUdgivet - 2017
Udgivet eksterntJa
BegivenhedInnovative Solutions for Sustainable Management of Nitrogen - Aarhus Universitet, Aarhus, Danmark
Varighed: 26 jun. 201728 jun. 2017


KonferenceInnovative Solutions for Sustainable Management of Nitrogen
LokationAarhus Universitet

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