Organizing cultivation happens through strategic, tactical and operational decisions. Growing potatoes at all and going for seed, organic or starch potatoes are strategic decisions at the farm level. Which field to plant and which variety to be used for the early or the main crop are tactical decisions taken before the crop is planted.
Once planted, decisions are taken on when to hill and when and at which dose to apply supplemental fertilizer, irrigation water and crop protection agents. All strategic, tactical and operational decisions require support from previous experience and or from decision support systems (DSS). Such systems use observations such as crop and soil water status, previous weather and weather forecast for irrigation scheduling and of population density measurements for control of nematodes and insects. Observation devices are placed in the soil to determine the soil water status and other observations are derived from Introduction tests such as the petiole nitrate status, or from counting in traps such as for aphid monitoring. These are proximate (in field) observations but others are remote such as crop reflections with tractor, drone, airplane or satellite mounted cameras. Decision support systems use quantitative data embedded in databases and mathematical models and they suggest decisions that growers add to their experiences before they apply water or chemicals to irrigate, feed, protect or kill the crop.
A decision support system is a quantitative interface approach based on observations of the environment and or crop, on previous dose response reactions as condensed in models and databases. A DSS suggests type, time and dose of an application.
Want to read more about Decision Support Systems (DSS)? Chapter 5 of our Potato handbook dives deeper into the subject of Strategic, Tactical and Operational DSS.
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