Keywords: Nutrient management, adaptive management, nutrient use efficiency, soil testing, site-specific management.
Many different tools are employed by crop producers and their advisors in making nutrient management decisions. In this paper these tools, and their integration locally to support decision-making, comprise the decision support system for nutrient management. Simultaneous improvement in productivity and nutrient use efficiency will require sound nutrient management decisions supported by tools capable of delivering relevant science to the farm. Common real-world components of decision support systems for nutrient management include crop appearance, crop nutrient removal, soil testing, plant and grain analysis, nutrient response measurement, economic analysis, environmental risk assessment and nutrient source integration. These components may involve minimal on-farm technology and be appropriate for regions of small landholders or be more appropriate for regions with good access to sophisticated technologies. One of the challenges of developing support systems is to consider appropriately both short-term and long-term consequences of nutrient management decisions. The importance of decision support systems for nutrient management will increase as the demand for improved efficiency and productivity increase. The integration of appropriate decision support devices into support systems to assist with the many interdependent nutrient management decisions has been accomplished for dominant cropping systems is some regions but is yet to happen in others. Such integration is necessary for existing scientific understanding to be put to use in the field. Open transparent support systems that facilitate adaptive management through internal feedback promise to improve the quality of nutrient management decision-making. Such open systems are better able to capitalise on local nutrient management expertise and the implementation of site-specific approaches.
Paul E. Fixen, Potash and Phosphate Institute, 772 22nd Ave. S., Brookings, SD 57006, USA.
31 pages, 15 figures, 4 tables, 44 references.