Insights in development and deployment of the GLA and NUTBAL decision support systems for grazinglands
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The evolution of two decision support systems are traced from their roots in academia to deployment to technical advisors in USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. The Grazing Lands Application (GLA) decision support system (DSS) was designed to provide forage inventories for grazing management of ranches. The other tool, NUTBAL, evolved as a stand alone DSS, emerging as a component of GLA when a supporting monitoring technology for nutritional profiling of free-ranging animals provided the user rapid estimates of diet quality from fecal scans with near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS). The adoption pattern of GLA and NUTBAL were quite different, with GLA experiencing less widespread adoption in USDA NRCS. The primary causes were (1) limited adoption rate of GLA within NRCS associated with changing culture in the information technology development group, (2) time overloading and staff reassignments for new programs, (3) changing software/hardware development environments imposed by the client disrupting development and system design and (4) large up front conversion of a largely paper-based system to a digital form. GLA was transformed to web-based delivery and streamlined to gain greater acceptance by users and ease time constraints on use of spatial tools. The NUTBAL system experienced more of a user driven evolution since it emerged from the GLA suite of tools and was supported by on-ranch monitoring systems capability of directly linking the livestock producer's animals with the software. NUTBAL's linkage to animal monitoring systems seems to have accelerated adoption rates. Ease of access to supporting input data coupled with early involvement of the target user and extensive analysis of the decision environment were critical to future success of these systems. Targeting technical advisors instead of livestock producers appears to be a more viable development track unless new innovations in DSS delivery systems can emerge using the internet. © 2002 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.
author list (cited authors)
Stuth, J. W., Hamilton, W. T., & Conner, R.