Publication Details

Asseng, S., Dray, A., Perez, P., Su, X. & Muller, J. P. (2007). Dynamics of a salinity-prone agricultural catchment driven by markets, farmers' attitudes and climate change. In L. Oxley & D. Kulasiri (Eds.), MODSIM 2007 International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (pp. 32-38). Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand.


An agent-based simulation model has been developed with CORMAS combining simplified bio-physical processes of land cover, dry-land salinity changes, rainfall, farm profitability and farmer decisions on land uses in a dry-land agricultural catchment (no irrigation). Simulated farmers formulate individual decisions dealing with land use changes based on the combined performance of their past land cover productivity and market returns. The willingness to adapt to market drivers and the ability to maximize returns varies across farmers. In addition, farmers in the model can demonstrate various attitudes towards salinity mitigation as a consequence of experiencing and perceiving salinity on their farm, in the neighborhood or in the entire region. Consequently, farmers can adopt land cover strategies aiming at reducing salinity impact. The simulation results using historical rainfall records reproduces similar trends of crop-pasture ratios, salinity change and farm decline as observed in the last 20 years in the Katanning catchment (Western Australia). Using the model as an explorative tool for future scenarios, the simulation results highlighted the importance of rainfall changes and wide-spread willingness of farmers to combat dry-land salinity. Rainfall changes as a consequence of climate change can lead to prolonged sequences of dry and wet seasons. Adaptation to these sequences by farmers seems to be critical for farm survival in this catchment.