Decision support systems in agriculture

Decision support system (DSS) is a computer based tool which provides prediction of crop yield under specific scenario on the basis of crop production data (obtained by field experiments), climatic and environmental historical by using basic inputs from the decision maker that can help the user to make a fair decision. Many components, such as simulation models, databases, and mathematical equations, must be combined to formulate a completely developed decision support system (DSS).

The purpose of these decision support system (DSS) is to provide improved soil and crop management practices for the betterment of agriculture and farmer’s livelihood. These systems enable a person or a farmer to make right and fruitful decisions according to available resources.

Decision support systems (DSS) are developed with the advancements in the field of information technology, which analyze the complex natural phenomenon of crop production by integrating different scientific fields and provide reduced data set which is more comprehensive and easy to understand for making a suitable decision.

Decision support system (DSS) play a significant role in precision agriculture for crop production. DSS provide a site specific crop management practices for obtaining high yield under a specific climatic conditions. Decision support system can be used to assist agricultural policy makers for proper assessment of future policies and objectives.

Decision support systems (DSS) can be used at farm level for providing information that used to improve plan and decisions. They also provide best plan of action that is useful at farm, regional, national and global level. DSS provides information about farming and agro-ecological systems and their risk attitudes. DSS can be used to analyze the benefits or risk involved in adopting a new practice at farm. These also give overview of economics involved in a farming practices, gives the cost benefit ratio for producing a crop under certain management practices.

A decision support systems used in water resource planning and operational management. These help in planning a suitable irrigation scheduling and resource management. This planning reduces the water loss and enhance irrigation efficiency. DSS also used by the researchers to make their research more convenient and helpful.

Accurate forecasting of climate allow the farmers and other agricultural decision maker to make right decision to minimize the impact of drastic climate. Better forecasting of climatic events allow these farmers and other decision makers to make a good production strategy or to modify decisions to avoid the unwanted impacts. Decision support systems (DSS) assist us to make right decisions ahead.

Decision support systems also helpful in giving recommendations for a crop under a suitable climatic and soil scenario. Recommendations are made on the basis of previous researches analysis and their results manipulation.

Requirements of Decision Support System

A decision support system is only as good as underlying data base supporting it. Development of a decision support system requires a multidisciplinary experts observations and wide range of data for simulation. For developing a DSS, resources should be allocated to a specific field, proper budget for achieving goals and objectives, observation of results, calibration, evaluation and validation of DSS, are very significant and important. DSS require firm’s strategic focus. If DSS is use for pest control, DSS needs to clearly outline its strategic focus on pest control. A multidisciplinary team approach is necessary to make the framework of DSS and receive feedback from the stakeholder on these DSS. Team make these DSS more convenient for use and easy to understand.

Problems in Adopting and Developing DSS

Like other information systems, Decision support system were aimed to serve the farmers and other decision makers. But the annoying fact is that the use of agricultural DSS by farmers has been low. Resent researches show that the use of DSSs is not easy as for the expert because these DSSs are computer based and work on scientific data base. Decision support systems are not easy to understand for the farmer community. So issues regarding hardware/software requirements and computer literacy were identified as a great barrier. Proper data set for any place is very difficult for the researchers which causes difficulty in accurate prediction or simulation. DSS are very complex for agriculture simulation and its development requires researchers from multidisciplinary field of science. So making accurate decision for complex bio-physical system is quite difficult. Cost of development is also a hurdles in developing a DSS. It requires investment for development as data set collection in experimentation and designing of DSS. It is also very difficult to collect all the required data and data manipulation for developing a decision support system.

Some Commonly Used Decision Support Systems in Agriculture

There are many computer based decision support systems (DSSs) presently use in agriculture, some of these are;

DSSAT (decision support system for agrotechnology transfer)
APSIM (Agriculture Production System sIMulator)
GIS (geographic information system)AQUACROP, CropSyt,

WOFOST Models are very common in use.