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Development of practical decision support tool for assessing economics & efficiency of manure spreading systems -SPREADS - KT0101

Description
Economics of manure handling and especially spreading are likely to be of fundamental importance in encouraging the improved recycling and efficient utilisation of manures. Prototype decision support software, SPReader Economic Assessment and Decision Support, (SPREADS), has been successfully developed under previous funding (MAFF project NT1421). This is capable of assessing the costs and associated performance characteristics of a range of manure and slurry spreading techniques. A number of refinements of the prototype are now required in order to facilitate industry uptake of the software and improve its effectiveness, flexibility and to promote user-friendliness

The overall objective of this research is to complete the development, validation and subsequent user testing of the existing software, as a user-friendly and practical decision support system (DSS) for assessing the economic, labour and management implications of using different spreading systems for applying manures to agricultural land. Software component modules will be added, to cover umbilical supply and irrigation systems not currently included and manure incorporation options following spreading. Further field performance data will be collected from some of the newer technology spreading systems and from umbilical supply and irrigation systems, to enable the DSS to more fully describe the range available. The DSS will be in a form suitable for use by (a) agricultural consultants and (b) policymakers.

It is anticipated that the DSS will be of considerable interest to policy advisers with involvement in the implementation of the IPPC Directive and the UK Acidification Strategy. Also, to a number of professional groups within the industry, e.g., consultants, manufacturers and trade representatives, as well as to farmers and contractors. Allowance has been made for limited distribution of the DSS to the main project stakeholders and targeted users (relevant researchers, selected farmer-innovators, leading contractors and a number of consultants). Copies of the DSS will be made available on CD, produced in a similar way to the MANNER Version 3.0 CDs, with small pocket envelopes to accompany a printed user guide.
Objective
To complete the development, validation and subsequent user testing of the existing “SPREADS” software as a user-friendly and practically-based decision support system for assessing the economic, labour and management implications of using different spreading systems for applying manures to agricultural land. The DSS will be in a form suitable for use by (a) agricultural consultants and (b) policymakers.

Additional specific technical objectives include:
1. Extension of the capability of SPREADS to cover “irrigation” systems, with rain-gun or boom/splashplate distribution and, either below-ground mains, or above-ground supply (in addition to umbilical supply with tractor-mounted distribution)
2. Development of a manure incorporation option, as an odour or ammonia emission abatement strategy, and covering the major alternative strategies of ploughing and discs
3. The DSS will be capable of addressing the needs of general environmental constraints such as restrictions due to poor spreading conditions or nutrient loading limits, by enabling calculation of required spreading (and incorporation) days for a farm system and overall nutrient application rates
4. Development of technical documentation, on-line help and formulation of recommendations for support facility
5. The DSS will be made available as a software product ready for reproduction and distribution on CD
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2001

To: 2003

Cost: £88,003
Contractor / Funded Organisations
ADAS UK Ltd.
Keywords
Environmental Protection              
Manures              
Sustainable Production              
Waste Management              
Fields of Study
Environmental Stewardship