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The Development of a Computerized Decision Support Tool for Weed Control in the South African Sugar Industry

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Pp. 642-650 in Proceedings of the World Congress of Computers in Agriculture and Natural Resources (13-15, March 2002, Iguacu Falls, Brazil)  701P0301.(doi:10.13031/2013.8393)
Authors:   C.N. Bezuidenhout, N.B. Leibbrandt and A. Raja
Keywords:   Decision support, Weeds, Herbicide recommendations, Information management, Technology transfer, Sugarcane

A wide range of registered herbicides is available for weed control in the South African sugarcane industry. While recommendations take the weed spectrum, time of year, soil clay content and organic matter into consideration, certain herbicides are prone to cause phytotoxic effects on some cane varieties. With an increase in available information and a high demand for utilising this information in the industry, the need has emerged to combine results into a single manageable reference system and to streamline information transfer to assist growers with herbicide decisions. The aim of this work was to develop an information management system that could be maintained by weed specialists and provide technology transfer for decision support. A comparison between decision tree systems and ranking systems is made. Computer tools used in this exercise range from simple spreadsheets, a relational database, custom written front-end software and HTML pages. The system standardises record keeping for experimental results, related insights and observations. This improves sustainability and uniformity in weed research programmes. The system considers more factors than included in a previously developed manual field guide and therefore provides more comprehensive advice under complex scenarios. The user-friendly interface streamlines the interaction with growers and enables better herbicide management. The system is an improvement over the previous annual herbicide guide booklet and is anticipated to expand in the future.

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