Mathematical Geosciences

, Volume 50, Issue 6, pp 679–696 | Cite as

New Approach for Mapping the Vulnerability of Agroecosystems Based on Expert Knowledge

  • F. M. Vanwindekens
  • A. Gobin
  • Y. Curnel
  • V. Planchon


Climate change influences the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, which have a strong impact on agroecosystems. At regional scale, agroecosystems are diverse in terms of ecological environment and farming practice, intrinsic properties that influence their vulnerability to such events. The link between extreme weather events and the vulnerability of agroecosystems can be conceptualized by experts, including farmers, advisers, and agricultural scientists. However, their knowledge is not easily taken into account in models. A transdisciplinary modeling approach was developed to map the vulnerability of agroecosystems based on expert knowledge using a combination of a fuzzy inference system and geographical information system. The developed approach was applied to assess the vulnerability of two major Belgian agroecosysems: (i) the vulnerability of cropland to heavy rain, and (ii) the vulnerability of grassland to drought. The approach is flexible and identifies the various factors underlying the vulnerability and provides a useful tool to study potential sources of adaptation and resilience within agricultural systems.


Geographical information system Fuzzy inference systems Heavy rain Drought Resilience Climate change 



Our approach has been developed within the framework of the MERINOVA Project funded by BELgian Science POlicy (SD/RI/03A, 2012-2016). We thank the farming systems experts for the time devoted to interviews. We thank the other partners of the MERINOVA Project for their fruitful collaboration: Hans Van de Vyver (KMI/IRM), Guido Van Huylenbroeck, Ann Verspecht, Evy Mettepenningen, Julia de Frutos Cachorro, Myrtle Verhaeven (UGent), and Christine Mathieu (BELSPO). We also thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© International Association for Mathematical Geosciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Agriculture and Natural Environment Department, Farming Systems, Territory and Information Technologies UnitWalloon Agricultural Research CentreGemblouxBelgium
  2. 2.Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch OnderzoekMolBelgium

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