Agent-Based Simulation of Sustainable Resource Use in Agriculture and Forestry


Natural resource management; agricultural and resource economics; heterogeneity and interactions; integrated modeling


Chile, Uganda, Ghana, Brazil, Australia


This project bundles methodological and empirical issues of multi-agent research at ZEF. We are developing an agent-based simulation package consisting of:

(1) Guidelines for defining research questions and designing model components;
(2) Methods for empirical data collection and processing;
(3) Simulation software including tools for linking desktop computers to perform simulation experiments;
(4) Guidelines for planning the simulation experiments;
(5) Methods for validating the simulation results;
(6) Communication and interpretation of results;
(7) Development of teaching modules.

Expected quantitative findings are ex ante assessments of possible development paths and policy options. The project aims to provide policy relevant information for a wide range of empirical questions in which heterogeneity and interactions between actors and their environment are decisive. Examples are technical and structural change in rural economies, sustainable resource use policies, community-base resource management, and yield gap analyses.


Community, household and plot surveys; econometric analysis; rule-based expert systems; mathematical programming, numerical experiments

Main Cooperation Partners

Scientific Partners: Jens Aune (Noragric), Bruno Barbier (CIRAD), Harald Kunstmann (IMK-IFU), John Pender (IFPRI), Dawn Parker (GMU), Steve Vosti (UC Davis), Stan Wood (IFPRI)

Main Funding Partners

Robert Bosch Foundation

Further information

Mini-Symposium at the XXIV. International Conference of Agricultural Economists (IAAE), August 13-19, 2000

Computer Session "Multi-Agent Systems" at the tri-annual Conference of the IAAE, Durban, Aug19, 2003.


BERGER, T. (forthcoming): Innovation as an alternative to migration? Exemplary results from a multiple-agent programming model applied to Chile. In: BENISTON, M. ET AL. (eds.) Advances in Global Change Research, Kluwer Academic Publishers

BERGER, T., RINGLER, C. (2002): Trade-offs, efficiency gains and technical change - Modeling water management and land use within a multiple-agent framework. Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture 41 (1/2): 119-144.

Parker, D.C., Berger, T., Manson, S. (eds., 2002): Agent-Based Models of Land Use / Land Cover Change. LUCC Report Series No. 6, International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP). Downloadable at

BERGER, T. (2001): Agent-based spatial models applied to agriculture: a simulation tool for technology diffusion, resource use changes and policy analysis. Agricultural Economics 25 (2/3), 245-260.

Berger, T. (2001): Objektorientierte Implementierung eines Programmierungsansatzes mit Verhaltensheterogenität und betrieblichen Interaktionen. In: Zeitschrift für Agrarinformatik 9/2, 26-33.

Berger, T., Park, S., Vescovi, F., Vlek, P., van de Giesen, N. (2001): Sustainable water use under changing land use, rainfall reliability, and water demands in the Volta basin (GLOWA Volta). In: LUCC Newsletter No.6.

Berger, T. (2000): Agentenbasierte räumliche Simulationsmodelle in der Landwirtschaft. Anwendungsmöglichkeiten zur Bewertung von Diffusionsprozessen, Ressourcennutzung und Politikoptionen. Agrarwirtschaft Sonderheft 168.

Duration of the Project

until 04/2006


  • Dr. Thomas Berger (Head of Project)
  • Dr. Stefanie Engel (formerly Kirchhoff)
  • Dr. Soojin Park
  • Pepijn Schreinemachers
  • Tsegaye Yilma
  • Christian Sebaly
  • Jan Börner


Prof. Dr. Thomas Berger


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