Intensive agriculture and livestock breeding represent critical factors in the Lombardy region since the nitrate vulnerable zones are 62% of utilised agricultural plain area. The aim of reducing the environmental risk caused by agriculture activities (e.g. nitrogen losses into groundwater and atmosphere) can be only achieved through a critical and scientific analysis of livestock manure management in a whole-farm perspective. Keeping in mind this objective, the decision support system (DSS) ValorE was developed. It can be described as a tool able to evaluate from the environmental, technical, agronomic and economic points of view the main components of manure management (production, storage, treatment and land application) for a variety of livestock types (i.e., cattle, swine, poultry, sheep, goats and horses), under different scenarios adopted at farm and territorial scale. ValorE consists of three main components: data management subsystem, model management subsystem and two versions of user-interface, both for farm and territorial scale. Most of the inputs to the DSS comes from external databases, while a software tool developed in the .NET environment and implemented using object oriented programming (C# language), provides the logic to manage the scenario simulation of agronomic and environmental farm-scale models. Users and stakeholders can carry out comparative analysis, starting from the knowledge of the current perspective, in terms of manure management system at farm or territorial scale by interrogating the available databases. Moreover, they can generate different alternative scenarios thanks to different options for the manure handling and cropping system simulation. Then they can finally evaluate and compare different scenarios through multidisciplinary and synthetic indicators but also visualise spatial effects exploiting the coupled webGIS. ValorE is therefore an attempt to offer a comprehensive tool for improving both farm strategy and decision making process, which is particularly important in a very intensive agricultural area, with one of the highest livestock density in the world, as Lombardy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas