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Optimism for using computer-based DSSs for agriculture in Australia started in the late 1980s. This was a period of proliferation in the development of local DSSs and the development of agricultural software in Australia and overseas which preceded the widespread use of computers in agriculture. In the early 1990s less than 5 percent of farmers had computers, and a lack of farm computers was seen to be the major constraint on the greater adoption of DSSs. By the close of the twentieth century, the percentage of Australian farmers with computers has increased to almost 75 percent (Grains Research and Development Corporation [GRDC, 2001]). This has helped advisers and farm managers to use DSSs for their short- and longrange decision making. Like proliferation of the computer simulation models, the list of DSSs developed in Australia is very long. Some of the DSSs relevant to Australian farming systems and claimed to be in current use are briefly described in Table 8.2.

Examples of Potential Uses of Some Decision Support Systems

Australian RAINMAN

1. It is springtime, and so far, the season is going well. A farmer at Tam-worth, New South Wales, has to plan for the summer crop season. He wants information on the chances of rainfall in the coming summer so that he can adjust crop management by modifying nitrogen fertilizer applications.

The information the Tamworth farmer needs is easily derived from Australian RAINMAN. Information about Australian RAINMAN can be obtained from Queensland Department of Primary Industries at <http://www. longpaddock.qld.gov.au>. RAINMAN (Version 3.3) has historical rainfall records for thousands of locations, including Tamworth.

Procedure. Open Tamworth location in RAINMAN, and choose "Seasonal Forecasts" from the "Selector" dropdown window; the "Seasonal Rainfall" dialogue window opens. Click on "Setting"; the "Seasonal Time Setting" window opens. Select:

Season—October to December SOI phase—August-September

TABLE 8.2. Decision support computer packages relevant to Australian farming systems
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