Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/10/2003
Publication Date: 2/1/2004
Citation: Liebig, M.A., Miller, M.E., Varvel, G.E., Doran, J.W., Hanson, J.D. 2004. AEPAT: Software for assessing agronomic and environmental performance of management practices in long-term agroecosystem experiments. Agronomy Journal. 96:109-115. Interpretive Summary: Approaches are needed to determine the effects of management on agricultural sustainability. A computer program was developed to assess the relative sustainability of management practices in long-term agroecosystem experiments using agronomic and environmental data. The program, entitled AgroEcosystem Performance Assessment Tool (AEPAT), uses a simple indexing method to derive a relative ranking of agroecosystem performance among management practices evaluated with the program. In using AEPAT, users provide their own data, which they categorize and describe in a stepwise manner. Help windows as well as a tutorial are provided within AEPAT to assist users through each step. While it is relatively easy to generate treatment rankings with AEPAT, users must keep in mind the assumptions and drawbacks inherent to the indexing method used in the program, and temper their conclusions accordingly.
Technical Abstract: Approaches to assess the effects of management practices on agroecosystem functions are needed to determine the relative sustainability of agricultural management systems. This paper describes a computer program designed to assess the relative sustainability of management practices using agronomic and environmental data. The program, entitled AgroEcosystem Performance Assessment Tool (AEPAT), utilizes performance-based index methodology to derive a relative ranking of agroecosystem performance among management practices for functions and indicators included in the procedure. The program is organized into eight major steps: Introduction, Input Files, Assign Indicators to Functions, Describe Indicators, Assign Weights, Select Output File, Calculate Agroecosystem Performance Scores, and Save Agroecosystem Project. Help windows as well as a tutorial are provided within the program to assist users through each step. Users must keep in mind the assumptions and drawbacks inherent to performance-based indices while using AEPAT. Additionally, the program requires data on many indicators in order to provide useful information on agroecosystem performance. Therefore, its use is intended primarily for clientele conducting long-term agroecosystem experiments.