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Analysis of structural change and dynamic adjustments in agriculture


This research line applies different types of econometric estimators and most recently Agent Based Modelling to analyze farm structural change and dynamic adjustments in agriculture.

The focus is on studying the fundamental drivers of farm structural change, to analyze how policy decisions can affect the process and in turn how structural adjustment affects policy outcomes. Structural change research is conducted for Germany, the EU, Norway and South Africa.

Our teams have contributed to methodical developments and the empirical application of Markov chain models using Cross Entropy and Bayesian estimation techniques combining individual farm level micro data with aggregated macro data. More recently the focus is on farm level spatial interactions which are analyzed using Spatial Econometric techniques as well as Agent Based Models. An Agent Based Model approach is also applied in a developing country context to study dynamic structural decisions at farm level in response to changes in the social and natural environment.

The Agent Based Modelling of farm structural change is closely related to our research on the dairy sector and on climate change impacts and other long term drivers on agriculture in Africa.

Ongoing research projects

  1. DairyStruct (Understanding spatial interactions and structural change in the dairy production chain with a dynamic regional Agent Based Model covering dairy farms and dairy processing, DFG individual grant, 2015-2018), applying an Agent Based Model of structural change, by Wolfgang Britz and Thomas Heckelei, with a close relation to our research line on dariy
  2. RCR (Resilience, Collapse and Reorganisation in Social-Ecological Systems of East- and South Africa's Savannahs, DFG Research Unit [Forschergruppe] FOR 1501, 2010-2016, PIs Thomas Heckelei and Karin Holm-Müller, subproject B2 on "Resilience of SES from a Resource-Economics Perspective")
  3. Empirical analysis of farm level spatial interactions and their role for aggregated policy impact analysis, DFG Individual Grant, 2015-2018, by Hugo Storm

Past research

Selected publications

Journal articles

Rasch, S., T. Heckelei, H. Storm, R. Oomen and C. Naumann (2017): Multi-scale resilience of a communal rangeland system in South Africa. Ecological Economics 131:129-138. Link.

Rasch, S., T. Heckelei, R. Oomen and C. Naumann (2016): Cooperation and collapse in a communal livestock production SES model – A case from South Africa. Environmental Modelling & Software (75): 402-413 Link.

Rasch, S., T. Heckelei and R. Oomen (2016): Reorganizing resource use in a communal livestock production socio-ecological system ins South Africa. Land Use Policy (52):221-231Link.

Storm, H., T. Heckelei and R.C. Mittelhammer (2016): Bayesian estimation of non-stationary Markov models combining micro and macro data. European Review of Agricultural Economics, 43(2):303-329 Link

Storm, H., T. Heckelei, M. Espinosa and S. Gomez y Paloma (2015): Short Term Prediction of Agricultural Structural Change using Farm Accountancy Data Network and Farm Structure Survey Data. German Journal of Agricultural Economics, 64(3).

Storm, H., K. Mittenzwei and T. Heckelei (2015): Direct payments, spatial competition and farm survival in Norway. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 97(4):1192-1205. Link

Rasch, S., Heckelei, T., Oomen, R., Naumann, C. (2015): Cooperation and collapse in a communal livestock production SES model – A case from South Africa , Environmental Modelling & Software (in press) , Link.

Zimmermann, A., Heckelei, T. (2012): Structural Change of European Dairy Farms - A Cross-regional Analysis , Journal of Agricultural Economics 63(3): 576–603 , Link.

Zimmermann, A., Heckelei, T., Pèrez Dominguez, I. (2009): Modelling farm structural change for integrated ex-ante assessment: review of methods and determinants , Environmental Science & Policy 12(5): 601-618 , Link.

Conference contributions, reports

Storm, H. and T. Heckelei (2016): Local and regional spatial interactions of Norwegian farm growth. Paper presented at the 2016 AAEA Annual Meetings, Boston, Massachusetts, July 31-August 2, 2016. Link

Storm, H. and T. Heckelei (2015): Local and regional spatial interactions in the analysis of Norwegian farm growth. Paper presented at the 150th EAAE Seminar, Edinburgh, UK, October 22-23, 2015. Link

Storm, H., T. Heckelei and Ron C. Mittelhammer (2014): Bayesian Estimation of Non-Stationary Markov Models Combining Micro and Macro Data. Paper presented at the 2014 EAAE Congress, Ljubljana, Slovenia, August 16-29, 2014. Link

Storm, H., K. Mittenzwei and T. Heckelei (2013): Direct payments, spatial competition and farm survival in Norway. Paper presented at the 2013 AAEA Annual Meetings, Washington, DC, August 4-6, 2013. Link

Storm, H. and K. Mittenzwei (2013): Farm survival and direct payments in the Norwegian farm sector, Norwegian Agricultural Economics Research Institute, Discussion paper 2013-5 Link

Gocht, A., Röder, N., Neuenfeldt, S., Storm, H., Heckelei, T. (2012): Modelling farm structural change: A feasibility study for ex-post modelling utilizing FADN and FSS data in Germany and developing an ex-ante forecast module for the CAPRI farm type layer baseline, in: María Espinosa, Sergio Gomez y Paloma (eds.) European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Report EUR 25555 EN, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2012 , Link.

Storm, H., Heckelei, T. (2012): Predicting agricultural structural change using census and sample data. Poster presented at the 2012 AAEA Annual Meetings, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle (USA). Link

Zimmermann, A., Heckelei, T. (2012): Differences of Farm Structural Change across European Regions. Discussion paper 2012:4, Institute for Food and Resource Economics, University of Bonn. Link

Heckelei, T. (2010): Structural Change and Policy Impact Modelling , invited paper presented at the 114th EAAE-Seminar "Structural Change in Agriculture", 15 - 16 April 2010, Berlin (Germany).

Zimmermann, A., Heckelei, T. (2009): Farm structural change in European regions , in: Integrated Assessment of Agriculture and Sustainable Development (AgSAP), 10-12 March, 2009, Egmond aan Zee (The Netherlands): 168-169.


Storm, H. (2014): Methods of analysis and empirical evidence of farm structural change. Dissertation, University of Bonn, URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:5n-37174.

Zimmermann, A. (2012): Empirical analysis of farm structural change at EU-level. Dissertation, University of Bonn, URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:5N-29053.

Last updated: Thursday, January 05, 2017