Survey and review of existing decision support tools
|Main authors:||F.A. Nicholson, J.R. Williams, R. Cassidy, D. Doody, A. Ferriera, A. Jamsek, Ø. Kaste, S., Langas, R. K. Laursen, P. Schipper, N. Surdyk, L. Tendler, J. van Vliet and K.Verloop|
|Source document:||Nicholson, F.A. et al. (2018) Survey and Review of Decision Supports Tools. FAIRWAY Project Deliverable 5.1 166 pp|
This section of FAIRWAYiS contains a comprehensive overview of decision support tools (DSTs) used by farmers, farm advisors, water managers and policy makers in the EU for water, nutrient and pesticide management. It encompasses paper-based guidelines, farm-level software and phone apps, and complex models intended for research studies. The overall purpose of the review was to select a subset of DSTs that could be further assessed by the multi-actor platform (MAP) leaders for their potential suitability in managing water quality within the case study catchments of the FAIRWAY project (»Multi-actor platforms).
Structured searches of the scientific literature largely returned details of research-based modelling tools; therefore the unique combination of expertise and practical experience of the project participants was used to identify farm-scale tools and other locally developed DSTs that were assessed as being important in a national context.
»Definitions and methodology
More than 150 DSTs were identified in total, of which 36 were selected for further investigation based on their national importance and relevance to the project aims. For these DSTs, a set of Information Sheets were produced to provide an easily accessible source of key information on tool capabilities, and a subset were demonstrated to a group of project partners and MAP leaders at a Workshop.
»Decision support tool short list
A classification scheme was devised to better understand the target users of the DSTs and the types of support they were intended to provide. The DSTs were separated into those developed to support water quality/agri-environment policy makers operating at a regional or national level, and those intended to support sustainable nutrient management at the farm level. The DSTs were further divided into groups depending on whether they provided support for i) evaluation of current practices; ii) strategic advice for farm management and implementation of measures; or iii) on-farm operational management.
»Types of decision support tool
Few of the selected DSTs were primarily aimed at improving water quality. Rather they were farm (nutrient/pesticide) management tools and their inclusion in this review was based on the assumption that the efficient use of nitrogen and pesticides indirectly improves water quality; most participants reported using this type of DST. Only 3 of the shortlisted DSTs were explicitly developed to consider the impact of mitigation methods on water quality: FARMSCOPER (UK), Environmental Yardstick for Pesticides (NL) and Catchment Lake Modelling Network (NO). However, tools that support the efficient and smart application of nutrients or pesticides (e.g. by taking into account weather forecasts), can be said to provide indicative information on management measures for reducing losses to the water environment. Economic and financial impacts of mitigation methods were infrequently represented by the shortlisted DSTs.
»Representation of water quality, mitigation methods and economic and financial aspects in decision support tools
All the DSTs examined in this review operate within the context of the wider advisory frameworks in place in their respective countries, and this will clearly impact on the uptake of a DSTs and its usefulness/effectiveness. It may not always be straightfoward to transfer a DST from one country to another because the advisory framework are likely to be different, in addition to issues around language and requirements for country-specific data or calibration.
»National and international use of decision support tools and barriers to their uptake
Selected DSTs will be evaluated in the FAIRWAY case studies for their ability to assist in implementing mitigation methods and managing water quality.