Integrated Farm Optimisation and Resource Allocation Model (INFORM)

Purpose

INFORM is a farm optimisation model that allows for assessment of targeted investments into farm systems and the best use of resources within the farm. This would inform farm management decisions to maximise profit and adjust to resource allocation requirements for environmental outcomes.

Description

“INFORM” (Integrated Farm Optimisation and Resource Allocation Model) is a farm systems model that integrates biological data from each land management unit (similar natural resources and management practices) (LMU) within the farm. It uses LMU information to identify the mix of production enterprises and management regimes that could maximise profit (EBIDTA) for the business.

This modelling approach helps isolate and examine the value of investments targeted at specific parts of the farm on the whole farm business, and could potentially offer analysis that will make best use of resources within defined boundaries, for targeted performance of ecosystem services delivery.  The challenge of maximising the value of an onfarm investment is dependent on two factors:

  1. ensuring the full potential of the investment is realised by adjusting current practices to capture the gains; and
  2. the challenge of isolating, quantifying and valuing the contribution that investment makes to the whole farm business.

The INFORM model aims to addresses both these issues.

INFORM has the ability to integrate independently obtained biological data from each of the defined land management units (similar natural resources and management practices) within the farm system and place operational boundaries on the use or emissions from each land management unit before optimising profit. The optimisation routine within the model uses the information from each land management unit to identify the mix of production enterprises and management regimes that maximise profit (EBITDA) for the business.

This represents a step change over a standard approach that typically explores economic outcome first and then mitigates for specific losses (e.g. Nitrates (N03-), Phosphorus (P), Greenhouse Gases (GHGs)) and conditions. Optimisation of the farm system within operational boundaries can consider the consequences of multiple drivers simultaneously as an integral part of the farm system design and analysis.

The development and application of the INFORM model has been presented and published (Rendel et al. 2013; Rendel et. al. 2015)

The INFORM model does not output environmental footprints of the optimised farm systems. In studies undertaken the OVERSEER® nutrient budget was used, based on the optimal systems generated by INFORM, to model N, P and GHGs losses from the three scenarios.

 

State of Development Unknown

Development Contact

Estelle Dominati
Estelle.Dominati@agresearch.co.nz
AgResearch

Scope

Outcome Areas Economic, Environmental
Management Domains Land
Intended End Users
  • Researcher
  • Regional Council Scientist
Spatial Extents Land or Business Unit
Spatial Dimensions 2D
Steady State or Dynamic Steady State
Level of Integration Environmental, Economic

Input & Output Data

Key Input Data land use, farm management

Accessibility

Open/Closed Source Closed Source

User Information

Operating Systems MS Windows
User Interface Unknown
Ease of Use Please Select

Technical Considerations

Keywords Farm optimisation, resource allocation
Key References

Estelle Dominati, Alec Mackay, J.Rendel, and P. Smale (2016): Looking to the future of land evaluation and farm planning. Journal of New Zealand Grasslands 78: 67-72.

Estelle Dominati, Murray Patterson, Alec Mackay (2010): A framework for classifying and quantifying the natural capital and ecosystem services of soil. Ecological Economics, Volume 69, Issue 9, Pages 1858-1868.

Rendel, J.M.; Mackay, A.D.; Manderson, A.; O’Neill, K. 2013. Optimising farm resource allocation to maximise profit using a new generation integrated whole farm planning model. Proceedings of the New Zealand Grasslands Association 75: 85-90.

Rendel, J.M.; Mackay, A.D.; Smale, P. 2015: Valuing on-farm investments. Journal of New Zealand Grasslands 77: 83-88.

Associated Case Studies

Other Key Case Studies

Waikato Local Indigenous Biodiversity Strategy  - Pilot Project: Source to the Sea

WRC Website

Source to the Sea - WRC Technical Report