Submitted to: Computers and Electronics in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 15, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: The simulation of a whole farm involves many complex issues and interactions that must be addressed before a successful Decision Support System (DSS) for producers can be designed or constructed. The presence of multiple land units and uses, interactions across the farm/ranch, production of multiple commodities; and, variable soils, climate, and management activities are a few examples. For a whole farm DSS like the Great Plains Framework for Agricultural Resource Management (GPFARM) to function, it must rely on many tools for decision support including among them a simulation package that can handle the complexity of the farm system. The GPFARM Simulation Framework uses object-oriented (OO) techniques to simulate whole-farm systems. Data organization in objects helps simplify whole-farm complexity and object relationships allow flexibility in land uses, crop and animal types and management events. The inclusion of pre-existing or extended process-level models cut development time, help insure maintenance support from contributors, and is an effective re-use computationally efficient code. The resulting package simulates whole-farm management involving interactive land units, integrated crop and livestock operations, crop rotation systems and multiple commodities, and soil and climate variability. This provides farmers and consultants with an effective analysis of a whole-farm system that is required for sound economic and environmental decision-making.
Technical Abstract: Simulation frameworks for Decision Support Systems (DSS) at the whole-farm level have not adequately supported process level management and integration of complex farming systems. Development of the Great Plains Framework for Agricultural Resource Management (GPFARM) DSS for whole-farm management required a simulation package that could handle this complex system. Object-oriented (OO) techniques now offer improved opportunity fo the development of suitable whole-farm simulations. A whole-farm simulation framework was developed using Object-oriented Programming (OOP) and executes appropriate simulation modules, written in procedural languages (FORTRAN and BASIC), for the lower-level processes. Data abstraction, encapsulation, and hierarchy were crucial to simplying whole-farm complexity. OOP relationships, particularly inheritance in crops, animals, and events were key in allowing dynamic (runtime) setup and simulation of the farm system. The inclusion of existing or extended procedural modules cut development time, helped insure maintenance support from cooperators, and assisted with deployment of computationally efficient code. The resulting package simulated whole-farm management involving interactive land units, integrated crop and livestock operations, crop rotation systems, and multiple commodities, and soil and climate variability. The research showed that an effective OO framework for integrated farming systems should consist of a thorough object model of a farm state, a flexible input and implementation of events, and a simulation place to accomplish the biological, chemical, and physical simulation of a farm.