The main goal of the project is to develop a decision support system for integrated sustainability management in the extensive livestock production sector. In the context of extensive farming, the ModelMeat results will be used by meat and dairy producers directly as well as by companies in the agri-food industry with such producers as suppliers.
ModelMeat is a partnership between Terraprima - Serviços Ambientais and Escola Superior de Biotecnologia of Universidade Católica Portuguesa, aiming at developing a model for sustainability management in the extensive meat industry.
The project has three components:
(1) For the animal, a model based on the Dynamic Energy Budget theory will be developed. Such model simulates the feeding, growth, maintenance and reproduction dynamics of the animal and will allow to estimate the animal performance, the characteristics of the resulting products (meat) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
(2) Upstream, management and feed practices will be characterized. Practices, such as consumption of materials, energy and food produced outside the farm, will be characterized economically and environmentally by means of a parametric Life Cycle Assessment. Such approach will allow to obtain indirect GHG emissions. Furthermore, a method will be developed to estimate pasture productivity and quality through aerial photography and satellite imagery complemented by in situ measurements.
(3) Downstream, products will be characterized in terms of nutritional, quality, safety and sensorial aspects. The consumer’s willingness to pay will be assessed.
Initially, the model is calibrated using data from the Alentejo region. However, the project will establish reproducible data collection, modeling and synthesis methods for other regions. A prototype computer tool for model implementation will also be developed.
The project started in October 2016 and is expected to end in September 2019. It is funded by the European Union's Portugal 2020 Program.