From data to decisions: helping crop producers build their actionable knowledge
Evans, KJ and Terhorst, A and Kang, BH, From data to decisions: helping crop producers build their actionable knowledge, Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, 36, (2) pp. 71-88. ISSN 0735-2689 (2017) [Refereed Article]
Recent advances in distributed information technologies are providing the means to capture and process abundant data, and to reveal associations between variables describing the crop-environment-management interaction. This review describes the determinants and moderating factors influencing how much value a crop producer and his or her advisor can derive from data, and information derived from data. We describe the social, technological, and entrepreneurial processes needed to progress the nonlinear pathway from data to an on-farm decision, and explore the meaning of actionable knowledge; that is, knowledge that can be acted upon and applied to solve a real-world problem. We argue that effective decision support is also a system that supports the learning needs of crop producers and their transactions with trusted advisors. Crop protection, the sub-set of crop management used to mitigate crop loss, is used to illustrate current approaches and technologies to support farmers' decisions. We describe how situational awareness and actionable knowledge could be improved through use of emerging platform technologies, advances in artificial intelligence, consideration of farmer decision style, knowledge capture and maintenance, and embedding technology in human-centered services. Implications for the conduct of research and development are discussed.