Decision Support Systems in Agriculture, Food and the Environment: Trends, Applications and Advances

Decision Support Systems in Agriculture, Food and the Environment: Trends, Applications and Advances

Basil Manos (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece), Nikolaos Matsatsinis (Technical University of Crete, Greece), Konstantinos Paparrizos (University of Macedonia, Greece) and Jason Papathanasiou (University of Macedonia, Greece)
Indexed In: SCOPUS
Release Date: June, 2010|Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 554
ISBN13: 9781615208814|ISBN13: 9781616923655|ISBN10: 161520881X|EISBN13: 9781615208821|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-881-4


As national and international concern over sustainable resources becomes more prevalent, the need for decision support systems (DSS) increases. The applicable uses of a successful system can assist in the sustainability of resources, as well as the efficiency and management of the agri-environment industry.

Decision Support Systems in Agriculture, Food and the Environment: Trends, Applications and Advances presents the development of DSS for managing agricultural and environmental systems, focusing on the exposition of innovative methodologies, from web-mobile systems to artificial intelligence and knowledge-based DSS, as well as their applications in every aspect from harvest planning to international food production and land management. This book provides an in depth look into the growing importance of DSS in agriculture.

Topics Covered

The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:

  • Dairy farming
  • Ecosystem reconstruction and management
  • Field performance prediction
  • Fisheries Management
  • Irrigation Management
  • Livestock systems
  • Simulation of agricultural and environmental systems
  • Sustainable forest and rangeland management
  • Sustainable Land Use
  • Water resources assessment and management

Table of Contents and List of Contributors

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The transformation of the planet over the past century due to intense human activity has affected ecosystems more rapidly and decisively than any other comparable period of recorded history; the emerging environmental change is making the production of ‘good’ decisions a challenging issue as the stakes and the risks have increased for all involved parties. The severe exploitation of the natural environment has led to a significant reduction and degradation of natural resources, placing the concept of sustainable development as a global goal a common consensus of the international community. As a result, the sustainable use of natural resources is presently much more than a simple necessity; current international research focuses heavily on topics like sustainable development, regional planning, environmental decision making and implementation, climate change, biodiversity conservation plus a number of other relevant issues, especially at times of economic crisis as today. However, economic growth and environmental protection can go hand in hand, provided that decision makers develop and use tools and insights targeting in the implementation of successful and robust long term policies. Reversing unsustainable global trends will require considerable and time consuming efforts and an integration of environmental objectives across most policy areas, challenging Information Systems (IS) and Operational Research (OR) researchers to participate and offer solutions.

It is in this context that Decision Support Systems (DSS), a core subject area of the IS and OR disciplines, come in focus offering solutions. Building successful DSS is a highly complex procedure, involving a number of disciplines like informatics, operational research, knowledge management, business administration, behavioral studies, sociology and artificial intelligence, all of which constitute sources of information that concern the manner in which humans potentially behave at the treatment of information and the decision-making process. DSS can be flexible enough to be applied to various policy levels of the agricultural, food and environmental sectors, from the local and national levels, to the regional and international levels with organizations such as the EU and the UN. Operational research modeling techniques have been developed to reach scientifically justified and robust decisions, which will enhance the process to achieve the target of continuous and viable sustainability in the long run. The DSS can range from simple accounting-based systems to systems based on detailed deterministic, stochastic or simulation models. As agricultural production and environmental management involve high risk decisions, risk analysis and management tools have enjoyed increased popularity over the last years as well, by the time that food supply chain management, ecosystem governance, conservation of biodiversity and global climate change have among other issues hotly entered the agenda.

The original idea behind this volume lies in the experiences of the editors in this field and their involvement in various DSS projects. After much debate, we identified the need to let the latest relevant theoretical frameworks and empirical research findings to emerge; to produce a book written for professionals who want to improve their understanding of the strategic role of DSS at different levels of the decision making procedure; such a book can also serve as an excellent dissemination tool for highly specialized DSS like those on agriculture, food and the environment, especially as these results are often difficult to reach production or acquire broader acceptance. This proved to be a challenging task; we asked vigorous researchers to offer their feedback from the design and modeling phases of the DSS, to the final actual applications plus cases using them.

The target audience of this volume is composed of professionals and researchers working in the field of decision support systems and in the disciplines of agriculture, food and the environment. This includes operational research practitioners, academics, agricultural and environmental economists and engineers, geographers, agronomists, farming industry practitioners and policy makers in developing organizations, governance institutions and regional and management authorities. Moreover, the book provides insights and reference for scholars and PhD students concerned with the management science, operational research, information science and international development issues like sustainability of resources, ecosystem management, biodiversity conservation and climate change.

The book is divided in three parts; the first part concerns the DSS fundamentals, design and experiences and it spans through seven chapters highlighting the difficulties and complexities that are encountered during DSS development. The second part, from chapter eight to thirteen is about DSS modeling techniques and efficiency of design and implementation; the third and final part presents DSS applications and case studies in nine chapters. The case studies using certain DSS and proving their effectiveness under various scenarios, can well contribute to the overall objectives of the book; governance institutes and stakeholders of different levels can gain from practices and experiences applied by their counterparts in different parts of the world, thus improving their effectiveness. Successful DSS case studies are expected to arise the interest of many DSS practitioners and researchers; experiences can be transferred, views can be exchanged, ‘bad’ management concepts can be avoided and above all research in the many scientific fields addressed by the DSS technology can gain new momentum.

Author(s)/Editor(s) Biography

Basil Manos has been holding teaching and research positions in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) since 1976. He is a Professor at the Department of Agricultural Economics of School of Agriculture and Director of the Laboratory of Agricultural Informatics of this School. His research interests are in Operational Research models in Agriculture, Decision Support Systems, Regional Planning, Sustainability and Efficiency, Environmental Management. Professor Manos holds B.S. degrees in Mathematics and Economics from AUTH, a M.Sc. degree in Operational Research from the London School of Economics, and a Ph. D. in Agricultural Economics from AUTH. He has published papers in European Journal of Operational Research, Interfaces, Journal of Environmental Management, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, Regional Studies, Journal of Policy Modeling, Water policy, Supply Chain Management-An International Journal, British Food Journal etc. He has conducted research in many National and EU funded projects, coordinating some of them, since 1976.
Nikolaos Matsatsinis is a Professor of Information and Intelligent Decision Support Systems at the Department of Production Engineering and Management of the Technical University of Crete, Greece. He is Chairman of the Department, Director of Decision Support Systems Lab and President of Hellenic Operational Research Society (HELORS). He also has over twenty eight years of experience in Information and Decision Systems development. He has coordinate or/and contribute on over of thirty projects. He is the author or co-author of fifteen books and over of sixty six articles in international scientific journals and books. He is member of the international advisory board of three scientific journals. His research interests fall into the areas of Decision Support Systems, Artificial Intelligent and Multi-Agent Systems, Multicriteria Decision Analysis, Group Decision Support Systems, Workflow Management Systems, e-Business, e-Marketing, Consumer Behaviour Analysis.
Konstantinos Paparrizos is a Professor in the Department of Applied Informatics, University of Macedonia Economic and Social Sciences, Greece, Thessaloniki. He received his MSc and PhD in Operations Research from the Case Western Reserve University, USA. His research interests include mathematical programming, network optimization, algorithm analysis, and data structures. He is a member of INFORMS, and the Mathematical Programming Society. He has served as a member of the Editorial Board of the Operational research. An international Journal, and also as a Chairman of the 18th Pan-Hellenic Operational Research Conference. He has conducted research in many Greek and EU funded projects and he also has a number of papers published in international conferences and international scientific journals like the Computers & Operations Research, INFORMS Transactions on Education, European Journal of Operations Research, and Yugoslav Journal of Operations Research.
Jason Papathanasiou is a full time lecturer at the department of Marketing and Operations Management, University of Macedonia, Greece. He holds a Ph.D. in Operational Research and Informatics and a degree in Physics, both from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He has worked for a number of years as an adjunct lecturer at the Technical Institute of Technology in Thessaloniki and on the Universities of Macedonia and Western Macedonia teaching courses like Computer Applications Programming, Web Programming and Operational Research. He has organized and participated in a number of international scientific conferences and workshops and has published papers in international scientific peer referred journals like the Journal of Environmental Management, Regional Studies, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, the Journal of Policy Modeling and the European Journal of Operational Research. He has also participated as a researcher and as a member of the coordination team in many national and international research projects.