Proper management of a farm’s agronomic activities requires accurate decisions, limiting the costs incurred while optimising their effectiveness. It is particularly difficult to determine the optimum time to carry out treatments to protect crops from pests and diseases whose appearance is difficult or impossible to observe.
Decision support systems can help by showing the farmer the likely time and intensity of a pathogen attack, enabling the preparation and implementation of a minimum number of treatments with the right products and the optimum effect. They can also help to adjust mineral fertiliser rates by optimising fertilisation at each point in the field, rather than by averages. With decision support systems, we can apply both tillage, fertiliser and protection measures much more accurately and purposefully.
Decision support systems can be dynamic software tools whose recommendations vary depending on the initial data and can propose an optimal decision path. Support systems are not only tools based on different types of computer systems, they are also many other sources of information that can be used for decision-making processes. For farmers, software tools can facilitate effective farm management by recording data, analysing it and making recommendations. There are also non-dynamic decision support tools acting as information sources. Decision support systems can be fully computerised or human-assisted, or a combination of both methods of guidance.
Decision support tools can be:
- based on full online or offline software,
- based on various electronic applications,
- in the form of tools or printed guidelines,
- in the form of news media (radio/TV),
- in the form of online calculators,
in the form of consultations with a counsellor. Precision farming is already a widely known concept, although it is used too infrequently or ad hoc. In the not too distant future, Polish agriculture will also generally enter the era of digital agriculture, which integrates the characteristics of a specific field, its soil, climatic conditions and crop variety, together with fertilisation and protection, using the latest technology. This will be a necessity regulated by the accepted principles for European agriculture described in many documents, including the ‘Green Deal’. The result will be the most sustainable, optimal form of crop production technology, as well as a reduction in production costs while improving quality and significantly reducing environmental burdens.