Modelling Individual Decisions to Support
the European Policies Related to Agriculture

Work Packages

The MIND STEP  project is managed through ten work packages (WP), each of which oversees and/or are responsible for various parts of the four-year project. This is illustrated in the chart below. To view project outputs and deliverables, please go to Resources.

In WP1, MIND STEP defines the conceptual framework for the analysis of policies and global drivers affecting the EU farming system, for measuring their impact and for linking them to the corresponding modelling issues. This means (i) identifying the key policy questions to be answered by the MIND STEP modelling system; (ii) identifying the indicators for monitoring and measuring the impacts of policies and global drivers affecting IDM farm units; and (iii) reviewing the existing IDM models and identifying the major gaps in terms of policy and global trend coverage, in order to clarify the key innovations needed with respect to the existing modelling systems. The work carried out in WP1 will constitute the conceptual framework for the whole MIND STEP project in the sense that the whole modelling and policy analysis work will refer to the identified set of policy questions, indicators and model gaps. As such the results of WP1 is used as input to the data framework in WP2, the modelling work in WP3, WP4 and WP5 and for the policy evaluation in WP6.

The leading partner of Task 2.1 collects and reviews data requirements from all partners and develops with other partners a guide for building data interfaces. The guide addresses beside conceptual implementation also the technical programming environment, the software production cycle, the integration into the MIND STEP model toolbox. Responsibilities for building interfaces will be distributed among the partners to avoid multiplying efforts. We also coordinate the data work with other consortia to benefit from similar developments and to avoid double work. We develop and apply approaches to match economic and biophysical data sets and build interfaces to current models in WP5 to enable a consistent and calibrated scaling up and projection of results from WP3 and WP4. WP1 and WP2 together constitute component 1 of MIND STEP. Component one will be input for component 2. Results can also be directly used by component 3 e.g. for monitoring and for analysing direct or first order impacts where appropriate. Moreover, the data framework developed in component 1 of MIND STEP is used to improve downscaling components of current models.

In WP3 MIND STEP first develops specific requirements and a protocol with respect to the functionality of the individual models and tools as well as requirements concerning interfaces between IDM models in WP3 and WP4. Next the overarching model for IDM farming units is developed. The aim of this overarching IDM model is to develop a template for the key functionalities which are common to any farm type and that can be used as input for all new IDM models in WP3 and WP4. The overarching IDM model starts from existing IDM models available inside the MIND STEP consortium e.g. IFM-CAP, FES and FARMDYN. In WP3 new models with a clear individual farm behaviour are added modelling environment, climate change and ecosystem services and risk behaviour at the farm level. The new IDM models and the overarching IDM model are modular linked. The new models in WP3 provide input to WP5 in order to improve the current models.

The modellers work with policy makers, farmers and other stakeholders to apply the new models to actual policy cases for their own region e.g. impacts of national CAP strategic plans, measures to reduce risk and climate policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

WP4 develops new and innovative tools focusing on interactions among farmers and between actors of the supply chain to enhance IDM-based analysis of policies and to elaborate on links to the MIND STEP model toolbox. For the new tools, the WP develops protocols on linkages to IDM farm and current models or how they can be used to complement EU-wide analyses in cases where formal links are not within the scope of the project. Specific developments include (a) the improvement of farm exit decisions in current models by developing and estimating innovative empirical models based on geo-referenced, bio-physical and single-farm data, (b) the development of new models for analysing farmers' response to Rural Development (RD) measures, (c) the development of a new tool modelling supply chain mechanisms and the bargaining position of farmers and other actors along the chain and (d) the development and application of innovative tools to integrate complex IDM models in ABMs using Machine Learning.

WP5 provide a MIND STEP model toolbox by integrating the models focussing on the individual farmer, developed in WP3, and the models focussing on interaction among farmers and within the supply chain, developed in WP4, with the EU/Global economic models used at the European Commission, in particular those gathered in the SUPREMA modelling platform, in order to allow for consistent assessment of global events and EU policies across different geographical scales – from regional to global – and different thematic dimensions. In a first step, a detailed conceptualization of the MIND STEP model toolbox is developed, considering in particular the complementarities between individual models with respect to particular policy questions, developing formalized data interfaces between the to be linked models, as well as providing a methodological overview of linkages depending on the types of models. The MIND STEP model toolbox develops linkages between IDM models and current large scale economic models in two directions: i) Bottom-up, when results of IDM models are used either directly in the current models, or indirectly, to estimate the behavioural parameters, such as yield and acreage elasticities, for the current models, ii) Top-down, when results from the current models are downscaled to either provide input parameters, “drivers”, representing market mediated effects of EU policies or global events, for the IDM models, or to complement the thematic and geographic coverage of IDM models for a comprehensive cross-scale assessment across different sustainability dimensions. WP5 creates the MIND STEP model toolbox. Results of WP5 are input of WP6.

This work package aims to support validation efforts across the MIND STEP project and to provide a thorough guideline and indicator system to access model validity on different scales, including data, empirical and process validation. As a proof of concept and mean of validation MIND STEP selects promising models and approaches from WP3 and WP4 for upscaling and/or replication in other regions that finally will be incorporated into the MIND STEP model toolbox. This work package will also provide a roadmap to use this toolbox for evidence-based policy evaluation. Input for this roadmap are the described applications of the new models in WP3 and WP4 to regional and national policy cases e.g. impacts of regional climate policies and specific RD measures and an impact assessment of a global event (climate change) or an specific EU wide CAP policy. These applications validate the readiness (of combined use) of the IDM models, ABMs and the improved current models in the MIND STEP model toolbox and the named roadmap. WP5 and WP6 together constitute component 3 of MIND STEP.

To embed the models in the toolbox we develop wrappers to facilitate the interaction of the models. The wrapper concept i) makes it easier to include to include models in the toolbox and ii) it improves the quality by ensuring the proper documentation of arguments and data. Given the required processing power to model IDM’s and to handle big dataset we will make use of high-performance computing clusters. Limitations such as data-confidentiality, and supported modelling platforms will be considered. WP7 will setup a version control system and download services for accessing code, results and data. This enables an interaction between the models and, hence, project partners, and is the basis for interacting with stakeholders, the research community and the public via web application and other services.

The aim of WP8 is to support awareness, acceptance and uptake of project and research activities and results among the professional community of stakeholders and end-users through massive and multichannel distribution of contents. A Dissemination and Communication Plan will be produced at the beginning of the project, designed around a well-defined, impact-based communication strategy. WP8 is part of the stakeholder platform. To safeguard the governance and future exploitation of the MIND STEP model toolbox different steps are taken to come to an exploitation model. This includes the acceptance of new partners that use the toolbox and adapt it to a new impact analysis in their region. These new partners should also be able to contribute to adaptation and innovation of the MIND STEP suite of models.

This WP aims to define and manage the overall project organisation ensuring a smooth and efficient running of the project towards its goals. The focus is on a timely delivery of quality output, meeting the project budget and a timely reporting to the European Commission of the project progress and results. As Mind STEP includes the collection of data, a data-management officer will be appointed and a research data management plan developed. Activities in WP9 will ensure fluent communication channels through consortium meetings, workshops and trainings.