Integrating feed crops and beef cattle: a modelling approach


Crop growth models provide insight to what extent production can be increased. Yield gaps can be quantified, using production ecological concepts of potential, limited, and actual production, and constraining factors for production can be assessed. Models such as LINTUL, SUCROS, ORYZA, and DSSAT enable to assess yield gaps in crops. A similar model for yield gap analysis in livestock is LiGAPS-Beef (Livestock simulator for Generic Analysis of agricultural Production Systems – Beef cattle), which simulates potential and feed-limited beef production. 

Crop growth models and LiGAPS have not been integrated yet. Integration of crop and livestock production enables to assess production of feed crop-livestock systems in kg beef ha-1year-1. Integration is of special relevance in grazing systems, where grass and cattle directly interact with each other. The goal of this MSc thesis, therefore, is to integrate crop and beef production by connecting crop growth models and LiGAPS-Beef. The focus will be on grazing systems, and one of the crop growth models that will be considered is LINGRA (LINtul-GRAss).    

Research questions that can be part of the MSc thesis: 

-      How can feed quality be incorporated in crop growth models?

-      Cattle in grazing systems usually select biomass with highest quality. Can this diet selection be quantified in grasslands? 

-      How are energy requirements for grazing affected by the available biomass and grass quality? 

-      Is it possible to include different grazing strategies, such as rotational and continuous grazing, in a joint grass-beef cattle model? 


Plant Production System group and Animal Production Systems group, Wageningen University




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Gerrie van de Ven                              0317-482140                  

Aart van der Linden