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Developing and disseminating decision support tools to the arable sector - AR0915


The main objective is to support sustainable use of pesticides and potentially polluting arable crop inputs, by: (i) disseminating robust versions of DESSAC to the arable sector, and (ii) enabling dissemination of DESSAC-compliant modules, by ensuring effective data acquisition and transfer, via the Shell.

Dissemination depends on (i) creating and implementing a dissemination plan for the DESSAC, (ii) liaison with other module developers towards agreements for joint data supply (via the Shell) and dissemination of modules (e.g the Wheat Disease Manager: WDM; Weed Management Support System: WMSS; Pest and Disease Management System for Supporting Winter Oilseed Rape Decisions: PASSWORD; Simulation of Nitrogen Dynamics in Arable Land: SUNDIAL; Spring Barley decision support, and Manure Nitrogen Evaluation Routine: MANNER), (iii) specifying and negotiating supply of meteorological, pesticide approval, pesticide price and crop intelligence data, (iv) providing documentation, training and `Helpdesk` support to users, (v) software licensing, (vi) branding, and (vii) creating and implementing a plan to sustain DESSAC in the long term

Ownership of the Shell and SUNDIAL resides with Defra. Ownership of most modules resides with partners of the LINK consortia responsible for their development. In the current economic climate, high prices for the Shell or DSS modules would preclude widescale uptake and, hence, sustainability benefits. However, the requirement for low unit cost needs to be reconciled with the annual costs of system updates, data acquisition, user support and distribution. One exploitation model, which will be tested during the life of this project, is for public funding of DESSAC Shell development, maintenance and data acquisition, to facilitate dissemination of DESSAC compliant modules by other parties. Generic data (such as meteorological variables and pesticide approvals data) accessed by modules via the Shell, would help modules to achieve the desired low user cost/high uptake, whilst covering their own maintenance and support costs.

The results of the project will be measured by: (i) uptake and use of DESSAC Shell and WDM by the arable industry, as a route for transfer of new research understanding, and (ii) the extent to which future uptake of an integrated suite of modules (addressing other aspects of arable pesticide use) has been facillitated via the Shell software. This project will provide a direct route for delivery of innovation to the arable industry, to improve environmental and economic sustainability.

The main and constituent objectives will be to:
1. Disseminate robust versions of the DESSAC Shell and Wheat Disease Manager (WDM) module to the arable sector, to support rational pesticide use.
(a) Ensure DESSAC Shell software quality and functionality to allow it to be used reliably by arable farming businesses.
(b) Support module integration.
(c) Test operation of DESSAC.
(d) Prepare and execute a PR and awareness plan for DESSAC.
(e) Launch DESSAC Shell and WDM.
(f) Provide IT and agronomic support for early adopters of DESSAC Shell and WDM.

2. Enable dissemination of DESSAC-compliant modules, by ensuring effective data aquisition and transfer via the Shell.
(a) Enhance and document DESSAC Shell to support SUNDIAL, WMSS, MANNER, PASSWORD and Spring barley modules.
(b) Automate updating Shell database with essential farm, meteorological and pesticide data.
(c) Co-ordinate between DESSAC and Inter-Met, as preferred future supplier of daily real-time and forecast interpolated meteorological data for automated uploading into DESSAC.
(d) Co-ordinate between DESSAC and Defra project ‘Crop health status and crop protection practice’ to create web pages for provision of in-season ‘live-reporting’ on disease levels in winter wheat, winter barley and winter oilseed rape to provide DESSAC users linked access to appropriate disease and crop intelligence data.
(e) Develop programmes for bespoke data provision from LIAISON® suitable for automated uploading into DESSAC of agreed information on wheat fungicides, tank mix compatibility, and oilseed rape fungicides, insecticides and herbicides.
(f) Identify and secure sources of weather and pesticides data for the system, until automated Inter-Met and LIAISON® links are in place.

3. Test the feasibility of a model for sustaining DESSAC, based on integration between public ownership and
support of the Shell/Toolkit and associated generic data supply, and LINK/industry ownership of modules.
(a) Facillitate integration between development and marketing of DESSAC modules to enable phased launch of new modules from 2004 growing season onwards.
(b) Develop plan with module developers and other stakeholders, for sustaining DESSAC beyond the end of the current project.

Project Documents
• Final Report : Developing and disseminating decision support tools to the arable sector   (267k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2002

To: 2004

Cost: £343,856
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Central Science Laboratory, ADAS UK Ltd., Rothamsted Research (BBSRC), Silsoe Research Institute (BBSRC)
Arable Farming              
Climate and Weather              
Climate Change              
Natural Resource Use              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study
Arable Crops