Forage-SAFE: a tool to assess the management and economics of wood pasture systems
Objective in developing the Forage-SAFE model
Forage-SAFE is a spreadsheet model that has been developed within the AGFORWARD project to better understand the interactions between trees, the grass understorey and livestock on the profitability of wood pastures. It can be used to assess the daily balance between the demand for and the production of forage to estimate an annual farm net margin. It is possible to use the model to modify biophysical and financial parameters related to the tree, pasture and livestock components (such as tree cover density, carrying capacity and livestock species) in order to maximise net farm income.
Description of Forage-SAFE
Forage-SAFE is a dynamic bio-economic model developed in Microsoft Excel. It contains some macros in Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to facilitate the efficient use and to address optimization problems.
A total of 304 parameters can be set in Forage-SAFE to define the biophysical, managerial and economic characteristics of wood pasture systems.
- The biophysical characteristics include production data of pasture, fruit, timber, firewood and browse.
- The managerial characteristics include data related to livestock (e.g. species, type, age, calendar, weight and consumption), trees (e.g. planting, tree protection, pruning, thinning, cutting and browsing) and pasture and fodder crops (e.g. planting, fertilising, spraying, and harvesting).
- The economic variables include sources of revenue (e.g. sale of livestock and tree products, and other services) and farm costs (e.g. variable, fixed, subcontracted labour and rented machinery, and unpaid labour).
Structure of Forage-SAFE
Forage-SAFE includes seven spreadsheets:
- Biophysical input data: this is the principal spreadsheet where end-users set biophysical and managerial variables. Annual results are shown in this sheet. It is divided into three parts: i) biophysical and managerial input data, ii) main annual results with button links to graphical results, and iii) estimation of ‘locally’ optimal values of tree cover, carrying capacity and distribution of livestock species to maximise production and profitability.
- Financial input data: to insert financial data.
- Graphs: main graphical results provided at a daily resolution.
- Livestock demand: calculations of daily food and energy demanded by each livestock species (e.g. cows, sheep, and pigs) and type (e.g. suckler cow, growing cow and male adult cows).
- Production NO TREE: calculations of the daily production of pasture and duration of energy content in areas beyond the tree canopy.
- Production TREE: calculations of the daily production of pasture and duration of energy content in areas under the tree canopy. It also calculates browse and acorn production.
- Biophysical analysis: calculations of the daily balance between energy and food production and demand in the wood pasture.
Use of the model and a reference
The Forage-SAFE model has been used to evaluate a dehesa wood pasture in South-western Spain. The results will be presented at the 15th International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology in Greece in August 2017.
García de Jalón, S., Graves, A., Moreno, G., Palma, J.H.N., Crous-Duran, J., Burgess P.J. (2017). Forage-SAFE: a tool to assess the management and economics of wood pasture systems. Submitted to the 15th International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology (CEST). 31 August - 2 September 2017, Rhodes, Greece.
Download the model
Please cite the model as:
García de Jalón, S., Graves, A., Moreno, G., Palma, J., Crous-Duran, J., Burgess, P.J. (2017), Forage-SAFE model: management and economics of wood pasture systems. Model delivered by the AGFORWARD project (613520).
Please note that this is a research model and despite our best efforts there may still be errors.