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Kanellopoulos, A., P. Reidsma, J. Wolf, M. van Ittersum. 2014. Assessing climate change and associated socio-economic scenarios for arable farming in the Netherlands: An application of benchmarking and bio-economic farm modelling. European Journal of Agronomy 52, Part A, pp. 69-80. Available online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eja.2013.10.003.
Future farming systems are challenged to adapt to the changing socio-economic and bio-physical environment in order to remain competitive and to meet the increasing requirements for food and fibres. The scientific challenge is to evaluate the consequences of predefined scenarios, identify current “best” practices and explore future adaptation strategies at farm level. The objective of this article is to assess the impact of different climate change and socio-economic scenarios on arable farming systems in Flevoland (the Netherlands) and to explore possible adaptation strategies. Data Envelopment Analysis was used to identify these current “best” practices while bio-economic modelling was used to calculate a number of important economic and environmental indicators in scenarios for 2050. Relative differences between yields with and without climate change and technological change were simulated with a crop bio-physical model and used as a correction factors for the observed crop yields of current “best” practices. We demonstrated the capacity of the proposed methodology to explore multiple scenarios by analysing the importance of drivers of change, while accounting for variation between individual farms. It was found that farmers in Flevoland are in general technically efficient and a substantial share of the arable land is currently under profit maximization. We found that climate change increased productivity in all tested scenarios. However, the effects of different socio-economic scenarios (globalized and regionalized economies) on the economic and environmental performance of the farms were variable. Scenarios of a globalized economy where the prices of outputs were simulated to increase substantially might result in increased average gross margin and lower average (per ha) applications of crop protection and fertilizers. However, the effects might differ between different farm types. It was found that, the abolishment of sugar beet quota and changes of future prices of agricultural inputs and outputs in such socio-economic scenario (i.e. globalized economy) caused a decrease in gross margins of smaller (in terms of economic size) farms, while gross margin of larger farms increased. In scenarios where more regionalized economies and a moderate climate change are assumed, the future price ratios between inputs and outputs are shown to be the key factors for the viability of arable farms in our simulations.