Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/29/2005
Publication Date: 3/1/2006
Citation: Bauerle, W., Timlin, D.J., Pachepsky, Y.A., Anantharamu, S. 2006. Adaptation of the biological simulation model MAESTRA for use in a generic user interface. Agronomy Journal. 98:220-228. Interpretive Summary: Biological simulation models mimic the growth and development of a single plant or tree as a function of environmental data such as temperature, solar radiation, and rainfall. Simulation models can be used on-farm to help growers make management decisions. Application of models outside the research community has been limited because the models often do not operate in a user-friendly environment consistent with other commercial software. An interface can simplify data input and provide views of simulation results. This research investigated the changes needed to modify an existing tree simulation model (MAESTRA) in order to incorporate it into a generic interface, GUICS (Graphical User Interface for Crop Simulators). The description of the data structure requirements, and the obstacles encountered and how they were overcome will assist other scientists wishing to adapt similar models to run in GUICS. Since many model developers cannot devote resources to make a user interface, the use of this research will potentially provide savings in resources for these developers and make their models available to a wider range of users.
Technical Abstract: Application of process-based models beyond the research community has been limited, in part because they do not operate in a user-friendly windows environment. This article describes the procedure of adapting a spatially explicit biological-process model, MAESTRA, to run in a generic Graphical User Interface (GUI). The methods used to adapt the MAESTRA model are generally applicable to other process-based models and therefore, simplify other coupling attempts. The three primary changes to MAESTRA were the placement of the MAESTRA code inside a MS-WINDOWS API (Application Programming Interface) function called WINMAIN, rearrangement of the input file structure to fit the hierarchical file structure used by the graphical user interface for crop simulations (GUICS), and the addition of iteration counters to read array based data read for each array within the MAESTRA input files. In addition to our account of coupling a process model to a GUI, we discuss recommendations based on our experiences for model input structure and interface design, two components that will allow various models to work with a generic interface such as GUICS. Furthermore, we provide dialog boxes and graphical displays of the MAESTRA model input and output within the GUICS windows environment.