In the context of market liberalization and in order to avoid trade distortions, European farmers risk experiencing a restriction of subsidies for market products. Moreover, policy makers cannot underestimate the public concerns about the non-productive functions of agriculture, such as environmental management. The current study illustrates different ways of modelling the trade-offs between environmental sustainability and economic viability for dairy farming systems in Reunion Island. Nitrogen (N) balance at the farm level is the result of complex interactions between pasture and animal management and between bio-technical and socio-economic management. Therefore, different multi-criteria models were tested using a common dynamic bio-economical model that integrated the different sub-systems of the farm and their interactions. Nitrogen excess mitigation in Reunion Island dairy farming systems was used as an illustration of a non-productive objective taken into account in the decision process modelling.
The simulations highlighted the necessity to adapt the nitrogen mitigation objective to the technical level of local territories in order to adopt environmentally friendly practices, without jeopardizing the local dairy sector. Moreover, the models generated a different set of solutions that varied according to how non-production functions are integrated in farmers' decision-making processes. This constitutes a relevant basis for discussions between farmers and decision makers.