An eco-rating system for optimising pesticide use at farm level : Part I - Theory and Development.
A computer-based decision support system is described which aims to encourage and enhance sound environmental management within agriculture. Part of the system focuses on the management of pesticides on the farm, and can help to ensure that the farmer adopts practices which maximise crop production and profitability without jeopardising the environment. The approach taken looks at all aspects of farm pesticide use including crop applications, storage and waste disposal and the use of non-crop pesticides. As a whole, the system can act as a informal environmental management system. An eco-rating is derived by comparing actual farm practices with what is perceived to be best practice for the site, to provide a measure of environmental performance. The first time the method is used these indices act as bench-marks against which the success of future improvements can be judged. The system has three modes of operation. An “assessment mode” seeks to identify strengths and weakness in practices and regulatory compliance and to provide guidance on areas where improvements could be made. In support of this a second mode known as the “technical system” allows the user to explore ‘what-if’ scenarios in order to identify site specific best practice and aims to provide answers to the issues raised in the assessment mode. The third mode is a fully integrated hypertext information system containing a range of context-sensitively mapped text on agriculture and the environment which can be used on a stand-alone basis or accessed from any part of the software system.