The project

The livestock farming sector certainly generates benefits that exceed the production of food (for example, the provision of fibres, employment and landscape conservation) costs also need to be addressed. Furthermore, this sector needs to respond to changing societal demands and increasing concerns about the viability of agriculture.

AnimalFuture strives to improve the sustainability of livestock farming systems by assessing the innovative practices on different aspects of sustainability, namely, the environmental, economic, and social. The project aims at identifying innovations that will soften trade-offs, while maximizing synergies and avoiding translocation effects.

AnimalFuture pursues the following specific objectives:

  1. Identify sustainability challenges and possible solutions in livestock farming in close cooperation with actors of the livestock value chain to assure practical relevance and feasibility

  2. Define the cost-benefit portfolio at farm level when adopting innovative practices

  3. Quantify the impact of these innovative practices on the cost-benefit portfolio at farm level

  4. Identify the trade-offs between costs and benefits at different spatial scales

  5. To enable actors of the livestock value chain to select the most appropriate innovative practices to achieve sustainable livestock farming systems

  6. Promote sustainable practices among animal production actors

Graphical description of the project

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Concept / Approach

Improving livestock sustainability requires more than just controlling its environmental footprint. Solutions must be built on a comprehensive consideration of environmental, social, and economic benefits and costs along with their synergies and trade-offs. AnimalFuture is therefore built upon the concept of “portfolio of benefits and costs”.

Within this portfolio, services as well as costs provided to the public by livestock farming can be made explicit. A portfolio consists of a wide variety of indicators (environmental, economic, social) that are affected by livestock farming. While an innovation may be efficient at a given farm, it might be ineffective at a larger scale – for example due to displacement effects. As portfolios do not only emerge at farm level but at different scales, AnimalFuture is taking a cross-scale approach.


AnimalFuture is broken down into four research and innovation work packages. In addition, one work package is dedicated to project management and another one to dissemination of project outcomes.

WP1Case studies via amultifactor approach(IDELE)WP3Farm-level benefitand cost assessment(WU)WP2Indicator-baseddecision support system(INRAE)WP4Region-level benefitand cost assessment(BOKU)WP5Outreach andknowledge transfer(LfL)Multi-actor WPScience-based WPOne-way connectionTwo-way connectionMulti-actor WPScience-based WPOne-way connectionTwo-way connectionWP1Case studies via amultifactor approach(IDELE)WP3Farm-level benefitand cost assessment(WU)WP2Indicator-baseddecision support system(INRAE)WP4Region-level benefitand cost assessment(BOKU)WP5Outreach andknowledge transfer(LfL)

WP1 – Farm network on animal production sustainability and multi-actor approach

led by Anne-Charlotte Dockes (IDELE)

Through a multi-actor approach, WP1 aims to develop a common understanding and build up shared visions of future livestock farming. To achieve this, WP1 will capitalise on knowledge and practice of a large farm-network along with actors of the livestock value chain - from the beginning to the end of the project.

The tasks of WP1 are:

  1. To carry out a characterisation of the case studies

  2. To characterise benefit-cost portfolios and to identify sustainability issues and innovations

  3. To characterise national level agricultural innovation systems using indicators of innovative capacity

  4. To identify innovations that reduce trade-offs and build synergies at farm levels

WP2 - Indicator-based decision support system

led by Francesco Accatino (INRAE)

The goal of WP2 is to develop a science-based tool aimed at allowing animal production actors to assess the impact of innovations at different levels. The decision support tool is composed of an easy-to-use and easy-to-understand dashboard.

WP2 is composed of the following tasks:

  1. Identification and selection of relevant basic indicators

  2. Development of the decision support system

  3. Implementation of the dashboard and integrated assessment of case-studies and scenarios

  4. Multi-level interpretation of scenarios

WP3 - Farm-level benefit and cost assessment

led by Imke de Boer (WUR)

WP3 will identify and assess feasible innovations that significantly increase the sustainability of animal production systems at farm level. For this purpose, whole farm simulation models are enhanced and applied to analyse changes in drivers and performance.

WP3 will carry out the following tasks:

  1. Inventory of whole-farm simulation/optimisation models

  2. Assessment of trade-offs and synergies by multi criteria whole-farm simulation models

  3. Assessment of innovation scenarios at farm level and ranking of drivers

WP4 - Biophysical trade-off and synergy analysis at regional, national and EU levels

led by Karl-Heinz Erb (BOKU)

The goal of WP4 is to assess biophysical benefit and cost portfolios resulting from innovations and interventions in the animal production sector at higher spatial scales. WP4 will adapt the Biomass Balance Model (BIOBAM) by Karlheinz Erb and colleagues of BOKU Vienna. It will enable a comprehensive assessment of sustainability in livestock farming by aggregating and contextualising data from the farm up to the European level.

WP4 is composed of the following tasks:

  1. Development and mapping od an animal production system typology and efficiency metrics based on a comprehensive MEFA data collection at national level and for NUTS2 regions

  2. Data collection related to GHG emissions, nitrogen flows, biodiversity and ecosystem services

  3. Extension of the BIOBAM model towards environmental benefit/cost analysis

  4. Exploration of trade-offs and synergies of innovations

WP5 - Outreach

led by Gerhard Dorfner (LfL)

WP5 will make sure innovations identified in the project will reach their target audience and take effect. The project results will be customised to best suit the main actors of the livestock value chain – be they farmers, advisory services, science, policy or the general public. This will be achieved through a multi-actor approach with various outreach activities and bi-directional knowledge transfer between project scientists and all relevant stakeholders.

WP5 is composed of the following tasks:

  1. Dissemination to the scientific community

  2. Knowledge exchange, Know-how and technology transfer to actors

  3. Make-sense and communicate effectively to policy makers on solutions for sustainability

  4. Organise a summer school for young farmers and students

  5. Communication to the general public

WP6 - Consortium coordination and project management

led by Muriel Tichit (INRAE)

WP6 will steer the project at strategic, operational and organisational level. The management will be flexible to enable its work programme to remain relevant throughout external events, whether scientific, technological, or even regulatory. It will be rigorous to ensure the project progresses in accordance with the work plan and the EC rules. It will be transparent to create trust within the partners.

WP6 is composed of the following tasks:

  1. Strategic steering

  2. Operational management

  3. Administrative and financial support