Several simulation tools allow studying the impact of agricultural management on production activities in specific environments. Such tools are specialized,
to different extents, to specific production activities: arable crops/cropping systems, grassland, orchards, agroforestry, livestock etc. Also, their focus
includes to various levels the estimate of system externalities which may have a negative environmental impact. Furthermore, the structure of such systems
does neither allow an easy plug-in of modules for different agricultural production activities, nor the use of different approaches for the simulation of
processes via alternate components. Finally, such systems are proprietary systems of either research groups or projects. The EU Sixth Framework Research
Programme SEAMLESS project aims at providing a tool to integrate analyses of impacts on a wide range of aspects of sustainability and multifunctionality.
This requires evaluating agricultural production and system externalities for the most important agricultural production systems. It also requires
the availability of a simulation framework which can be extended and updated by research teams with possibly different expertise, which allows a manageable
transfer of research results to operational tools, and which is transparent with respect to its contents and its functionality.
The Agricultural Production and Externalities Simulator is a modular simulation system aimed at meeting these requirements, and targeted at estimating the biophysical behavior of agricultural production systems in response to
the interaction of weather and different options of agro-technical management. All modules of this release are first prototypes linked to test hypothesis on the component based structure and to evaluate consequent modelling and technical
issues; outputs should not be analyzed to evaluate model performance at this stage.
APES is an application which uses several components being developed to offer simulation options for different processes of relevance in agricultural production
systems. Models are described in the associated help files of components, and a shared ontology is being built on the web. Such components, which are designed to
be inherently re-usable, that is, not targeted specifically to a given modelling framework, are also meant to be a concrete option to share modelling knowledge
with other projects and the scientific community.
APES includes also several applications and tools, targeted either to APES use or to components development.