Latest Event Updates
Dr. Jorge Hernandez, Senior Lecturer in Operations & Supply Chain Management, presented some of his high-impact research outcomes under the title of Understanding and Gathering Decision-Making Challenges in EU Agri-Food Systems with Uncertain Regulations (summary available here). This work is in line with the RUC-APS and the Multi-Criteria Decision-Making models under development.
The research work was presented at the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – Artificial Intelligence Cluster for H2020 impact & research panels, with more than 100 participants attending the event. The RUC-APS project was selected for this opportunity due to its current relevant results on decision-making in modelling based on international real-life agri-food value chain cases. In this particular case, and by considering inputs from more than 150 agri-food stakeholders from UK, Spain, Italy, Chile and Argentina, key agri-food value chain decision-making strategies were dimensioned to study and analyse new sets of national agri-food policies and regulations in each region. This work is aligned with the current RUC-APS IMPACT case under development which is also supporting the LAM IMPACT case in collaboration with Prof. Andy Lyons and Dr. Hossein Sharifi. It has revealed that agri-food regions prioritise different aspects due to their national regulations but similarities across regions are also depicted, especially in terms of introducing agri-food production to more stable markets and to promote reliable access to up-to-date agri-food information that, in practical terms, will enhance agri-food assessment services and the collaboration across agri-food stakeholders. The next RUC-APS project workshop will be held in May 2020 at the Britany Developing Innovation Agency in France, where main results and demonstrative outcomes will be presented to the International Agri-food Community.
The ICDSST 2020 welcomes participants from a wide range of background around the world, including scholars, researchers, developers, specialists, practitioners and other professionals, as well as Master and PhD students, who are interested in the decision making and decision support related areas, such as DSS methodologies and technologies as well as application-oriented solutions.
Do not miss the deadlines! More info …
Workshop:Current Challenges, Trends and Experiences for Enhancing Agriculture Value Chain Decisions under Uncertainty
On August 28th, 2019, an International Workshop took place in the University of Liverpool Management School, involving participant from the H2020 RUC-APS project (www.ruc-aps.eu), which consider a unique University Of Liverpool Cross Faculty involvement such as: Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, Faculty of Science & Engineering and the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences. In addition to this, Industry partners from UK, coming from the Royal Agricultural Society of England with their Innovation for Agriculture representative and the Lucana Agriculture Agency from Italy also got involved in this event. Ms. Rachel Brockley, RUC-APS project Administrator and Dr. Jorge Hernandez, RUC-APS project Coordinator and Principal Investigator, organized this event.
In this occasion, the themes and subjects covered were as follows. In the first place, Dr. Jorge Hernandez, from the Management School and H2020 RUC-APS project coordinator, presented current overall progress for this project, within a special emphasis on the current IMPACT related work on which he is working on, plus other IMPACT cases that are being support by RUC-APS. After this, Prof. Martin Mortimer, from the Integrative Biology Institute, linked to the University of Liverpool Centre of Excellence of Sustainable Food Systemsand the RUC-APS WP9 leader, addressed the current developments and challenges to combine sustainable and intensive approaches in agriculture, specially once dealing with complex uncertainties in the environment. Following this presentation, Prof. Andy Morse, from the Geography and Planning department, presented current advances on Climate change analysis, and how the links between international research grant can support next agriculture generation issues yet to be discovered. Next, was the turn for two PhD students from the Risk Institute, Francis Baumont and Dominc Calleja, who presented their current work on Decision Support Tools for enhancing urban agritech in order to mitigate key risk and uncertainties in agriculture, which is linked to the RUC-APS WP7 led by the Risk Institute. Then, Dr. Arturo Caponero and Mr. Emanuele Scalcione, linked to the RUC-APS WP6, and who are coming from the Lucana Agriculture Agency from Italy, addressed the most key and up-to-date challenges and work done, in practice. Hence, the key aspect from their talk was about dealing with current and new pest and diseases in agriculture, which links to one of the key international IMPACT cases led by the RUC-APS consortium in making more efficient the current Integrated Pest Management processes. Finally, Ms. Deborah Crossan, coming from the Innovation for agriculture UK, presented the current British challenges on soil management and how current uncertainties in climate and regulations is generating the need for developing more impactful research in the field.
This international event considered the participation of senior academics and researchers, as well as PhD students who are, currently, seeing in RUC-APS an opportunity to extend their research work, but also their networking possibilities for future research developments.
In the context of her secondment to FEDACOVA, Dr. Cecilia Challiol conducted a teaching session on the use design thinking strategies to support innovation in a non traditional. In the teaching session, some general aspect of Design Thinking has been described and then how to be used in a not traditional way to obtain the best benefits of it. Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity” according to Tim Brown (CEO of IDEO). The Design Thinking Framework has been presented with real examples of the four phases (Discover, Define, Develop and Prototype). These examples have been oriented to innovation. Then, some examples of in-situ co-design mobile applications have been described to introduce another way to use Design Thinking. This generates a starting point to discuss and analyze the way to use this discipline when are located distributed teams.
In te context of his secondment to UNLP, Dr. Akshit Singh from the University of Liverpool, conducted a teaching session.
Abstract: The use of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) have been predominantly found in manufacturing and service industries. However, in the last decade, the scope and scale of their application in food industries has significantly risen. Some of the most commonly deployed ICT in agri-food industries are: RFID, Cloud Computing Technology, IOT, Blockchain, etc. Given the nature of complex and global food supply chains, these ICT solutions virtually brings all the components of supply chains viz. farmers, processors, wholesalers, retailers and consumers on a single platform thereby enhancing transparency, traceability and efficiency in the flow of product, information and finance across the food supply chain (from farm to fork). Traditionally, the ICT being expensive in nature was only limited to the wealthy and innovative stakeholders in food chain (retailers, processors, logistics and other components in downstream of food chain). Nevertheless, lately the upstream of food chains (farmers, producers) have overlooked their traditional practices to adopt ICT to raise their produce due to multitude of factors- decline in price of ICT implementation, advent of mobile web applications, pressure from government, consumers and other stakeholders to reduce carbon footprint, address bullwhip effect etc. Therefore, farmers realised that they can no longer work in isolation and ICT played active role in integrating them with downstream of supply chain.
The presentation used is available for download as pdf
As part of his secondment to ALSIA, Manuel Díaz from UPV conducted a teaching session on “Mathematical programming approaches for procurement in water irrigation systems”.
The development tools used to improve water management acquire special relevance, particularly when the area has a high water resource deficit. Currently, this problem is present in many countries as a result of the increase in population, the decrease in water resources and the increase in energy prices. Mathematical programming is an analytical procedure to determine the optimum allocation of scarce resources. These allocation problems can be presented in very different ways. In this sense, mathematical programming techniques are employed in a large number of problems, such as production planning, supplier selection, transport and distribution problems, forest planning or scheduling flights, among others. The goal of this teaching session was to introduce the audience in the use of mathematical programming for addressing the replenishment process in a local irrigation network with the aim to decide what volume is procured (source, quantity and timetable) as well as what volume is stored while minimizing the involved total costs. A review of different mathematical programming approaches for addressing this type of problems was presented, and finally, a case study from a real water irrigation network was used to demonstrate the benefits of mathematical programming as a decision making tool.
Group decision making in agriculture: Mathematical programming model + Group Decision Support System approach
As part of her secondment to ALSIA, Ana Esteso from UPV conducted a teaching session. At the session, an introduction to the group decision making in agriculture was presented. For that, an approach comprised by a multi-objective mathematical programming model and a group decision support system was employed to centrally plan the planting and harvest of crops. The main complexity of this planning problem is that prices of products are highly dependent on demand-supply balance. So, decisions made by one farmer will impact on the margin to be obtained by the rest of farmers. This could be solved by centrally planning the planting and harvest of products, but new problems could arise due to the inequalities between farmers and consequently, their unwillingness to collaborate. A multi-objective mathematical programming model to centrally plan the planting and harvest of three types of tomatoes is proposed. Three objectives related to three dimensions of sustainability are optimized by using the ε-constraint method. Ten non-dominated optimal solutions are obtained and included in the group decision support system named GRUS as possible planning alternatives. Involved actors use the group decision support system to vote, in function of their preferences, the alternatives that better fit their needs. In this way, farmers collaboratively decide the solution to be implemented in farms. The involvement of farmers in decision-making process provokes the willingness to implement chosen decisions in real life. Results obtained by applying this group decision making approach to the Argentinean tomato case study are presented. Possible future lines for the improvement of such approach are commented and discussed with the audience.
The presentation is available for download here
In the context of his secondment to Riviera Produce, Raúl Poler (from UPV) conducted a teaching session on “Quantitative Models for Supply Chain Design and Management”. The session took place at the University of Plymouth.
A Supply Chain is a complex system of entities, people, resources and information involved in creating a product, purchasing materials and components, processing them, assembly the final product and delivering it, from various steps of suppliers to the final customer. To achieve a good performance in a Supply Chain there are lot of decisions which should be optimized, at different levels (strategic, tactical and operational) and different steps (purchase, production, delivery, transport, etc.). Quantitative Models applied to Supply Chain problems support decision-makers to achieve a good performance by selecting the optimum decisions among a myriad of alternatives. This training session aimed to provide the participants with a deep knowledge on creating mathematical modelling problems, related with Supply Chain, using an algebraic modelling language and a computer tool to solve it. The participants learner to create computable models from mathematical models, and test them using real or fictitious/realistic data. Models and data were be treated separately, creating the abstract model and storing the data in data sets, using a computer tool to obtain the model instance to send to the solver.
Management Production and Inventories: From EOQ/EPQ to ELSP and its extension with shelf life and transitive demand items
As part of her secondment to Riviera Produce, Pilar Vidal from UPV conducted a teaching session on “Management Production and Inventories: From EOQ/EPQ to ELSP and its extension with shelf life and transitive demand items“. At this session, the economic order quantity (EOQ) as one of the simplest and used models to control production and inventory was presented. Their extension to manufacturing systems, that is, economic production quantity (EPQ) was shown. How to implement basic production and inventory management policies using these models was detailed. The most basic inventory-management model is defined by the employed policy –reorder point (s,Q) periodic review (T,S), model (s,S) to name just a few- and its control parameters. It can be said that any of these models answer two basic questions: ‘when’ and ‘how much’ to order/manufacture. The ‘when’ question is usually addressed by either (or simultaneously) setting a stock level at which to reorder or stablishing specific moments of time when to reorder. The ‘how much’ question tends to be answered by either considering a stock level that serves as a reference to fill, or a fixed quantity that optimizes the affected costs. After that, Economic Lot Scheduling Problem (ELSP) was presented which occurs when EPQ deals with more than one item. The solution to the ELSP involves two critical decisions. On the one hand, there is the lot sizing problem. On the other hand, there is the scheduling decision, i.e. decide when items are produced so that the schedule is feasible. Some heuristics to implement ELSP approach were described. After that the particular case of a firm which package fresh vegetables was presented, describing the special characteristics of this framework regarding the management of the production and inventories.
Production Scheduling in a vegetable packing machine with uncertainty in the quality of the raw material
As part of his secondment to Riviera Produce, Pedro Gómez from UPV conducted a teaching session on “Production Scheduling in a vegetable packing machine with uncertainty in the quality of the raw material”. In the session, a description and several models of the packaging process of 3 product families (broccoli, cauliflower and mixed tray) were presented in a production system similar to that of 3 unrelated parallel machines. Several alternative models were considered in order to introduce the uncertainty in the quality of the raw material and to see how it affects the satisfied demand. After the presentation of the case, the resolution of a simple model was addressed by means of heuristic algorithms.
On June 12th, a special session took place at the ModelIt 2019 conference. The session started with a keynote presentation by Dr. Jorge Hernandez, coordinator of RUC-APS
From the genetic design of the seed, till their planting and harvest processes, considering the Farmers desired productivity as well as the expected end-customer service level, RUC-APS aims to provide a knowledge advancing in agriculture based-decision making through the development of a high impact research in terms of integrating real-life based agriculture requirements, land management alternatives for a variety of scales, unexpected weather and environmental conditions.
Agrifood value chain modelling as a tool to face uncertainties
The agriculture value chain concept it is certainly not new. But, since new unpredictable environments (weather, economy, technology, etc.) has emerged, it has become more difficult to manage it, but also difficult to compare to similar cases from the past, since most of them does not exists. In addition to this, there is a lack on global agriculture value awareness and Knowledge Management, thus a lack on participative and collaborative ICT developments, which implies that there are no validated framework to manage risks in agribusiness, since managing high uncertainty and unexpected events is even more challenging. Therefore, the genetic design of the seed, till their planting and harvest processes at the end of the agriculture value chain, this is research use and implement a a variety of modelling languages to provide customised answers to each of the challenges and requirements in the agrifood value chain. Thus, and throughout the H2020 RUC-APS project, the variety of modelling approaches is used to integrate real-life based agriculture requirements, land management alternatives for a variety of scales, unexpected weather and environmental conditions as well as innovation for the development of agriculture production systems and their impact over the end users under participatory ICT developments. Key outcomes are measured in terms of usability and impact of these models in real-life agriculture domains.
Prof. Shaofeng Liu, from University of Plymouth, was the Keynote Speaker at this year’s International Conference on E-commerce, E-Business and E-Government (ICEEG 2019), in Lyon, France.
Title: Decision Support in The Context of Business Digitalisation: A Knowledge-Based, Learning Led and Value-Driven Framework
Abstract: Business world has been changing faster than ever since the last part of 20th century. We have now entered a brand new era of business digitalisation. Benefited from the invention of Internet and Web, e-business has thrived. E-business is the organised effort of individuals and organisations to produce and sell products and services that satisfy consumers’ needs by using digital technologies for a profit. Digital technologies such as Internet of Things have opened up new commercial opportunities in unforeseen pace. For example, we now have a situation where the world’s largest bookseller does not own a single brick-and-mortar bookstore (Amazon), world’s largest telecommunications provider does not own any network infrastructure (Skype), world’s largest hotel business does not own bedrooms (Airbnb), and world’s biggest taxi company does not own cars (Uber). To adapt to this fast evolving and challenging business environment, adaptive business leaders and managers need increasing support from innovative and sustainable approaches for their decision-making. This talk will analyse important characteristics of e-business and key challenges of decision making in the context of business digitalisation, identify decision support requirements from three perspectives: knowledge management, organisational learning and value network. A knowledge-based, learning-led and value-driven decision framework for business digitalisation will be presented.
The pdf of her presentation is available following this link
As part of a secondment to ALSIA, Andrés Boza García and Llanos Cuenca Gonzalez from UPV conducted a teaching session on ERP systems.
The session covered the following topics:
- Definition and Characteristics of ERP Systems
- Reason to Acquire Them
- Impact on Organisation
- Advantages and Disadvantages of ERP Systems
The material used in this session can be downloaded in pdf form from this link .
As part of the Secondment of Dr. Alejandro Antúnez from INIA Chile at RUC-APS, the researcher attended to the IX International Symposium on Irrigation of Horticultural Crops, organized by the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) and the DiCEM/ University of Basilicata, hold in Matera (Italy) from 17 to 20 June 2019. At the Symposium, Dr. Antúnez presented three research papers on irrigation and water management, focused on the improvement of the commercial yield and water productivity:
1) Authors: Alejandro Antúnez, Carlos Blanco, Sofía Felmer, Marcelo Vidal and Roberto Morales.
Title: “Commercial yield response of iceberg lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. var capitata) to water irrigation at a cool semi-arid climate of Maipo Valley, Santiago, Chile”. Oral presentation. (PDF)
2) Authors: Sofía Felmer, Alejandro Antúnez, Marcelo Vidal and Roberto Morales.
Title:”Response of melon (Cucumis melo L) var. Honey dew to four levels of irrigation at Cachapoal Valley, Region de O’Higgins, Chile”. Poster presentation.
3) Authors: Alejandro Antúnez, Valeska Rojas, Pilar Gil, Daniela Cea and Raúl Ferreyra .
Title: “Improving water productivity of avocado (Persea americana Mill.) var. Hass by using a reinforced plastic cover over the canopy at Petorca Valley, Region of Valparaíso, Chile”. Poster presentation.
The activity was part of the Secondment under the supervisio of the Agenzia Lucana di Sviluppo e di Innovazione in Agricoltura – ALSIA en Metaponto, Matera -Italy.
Pascale Zaraté, Amir Sakka, and Guy Camilleri fom University of Toulouse 1 Capitole presented a new article at the GDN 2019 (Group Decision and Negotiation Conferences) in Loughborough, UK, June 11-15 2019 (http://gdnconference.org/gdn2019/).
Title: UX Challenges in GDSS: An Experience Report
Authors: Amir Sakka, Gabriela Bosetti, Julián Grigera, Guy Camilleri, Alejandro Fernández, Pascale Zaraté, Sandro Bimonte, Lucile Sautot
First Online: 30 May 2019
Part of the Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing book series
(LNBIP, volume 351)
Abstract: In this paper we present a user experience report on a Group Decision Support System. The used system is a Collaborative framework called GRoUp Support (GRUS). The experience consists in three user tests
conducted in three different countries. While the locations are different, all three tests were run in the same conditions: same facilitator and tested process. In order to support the end-users. we teach the system in two different ways: a presentation of the system, and a video demonstrating how to use it. The main feedback of this
experience is that the teaching step for using Collaborative tools in mandatory. The experience was conducted in the context of decision-making in the agriculture domain.
GDSS User experience
RUC-APS was present at the International Conference on Decision Support System Technology (ICDSST2019), in Madeira, Portugal, May 27-29.
Three articles were presented, that disseminate some of the findings of RUC-APS. They were are published in proceedings published by Springer, Lecture Notes in Business Information Process (https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-18819-1).
Pascale Zaraté, Guy Camilleri IRIT, MME Alemany, Ana Esteso Alvarez, and Mariana del Pino. How to support group decision making in horticulture: An approach based on the combination of a centralized mathematical model and a Group Decision Support System.
Abstract: Decision making for farms is a complex task. Farmers have to fix the price of their production but several parameters have to be taken into account: harvesting, seeds, ground, season etc… This task is even more difficult when a group of farmers must make the decision. Generally, optimization models support the farmers to find no dominated solutions, but the problem remains difficult if they have to agree on one solution. In order to support the farmers for this complex decision we combine two approaches. We firstly generate a set of no dominated solutions thanks to a centralized optimization model. Based on this set of solution we then used a Group Decision Support System called GRUS for choosing the best solution for the group of farmers. The combined approach allows us to determine the best solution for the group in a consensual way. This combination of approaches is very innovative for the Agriculture domain.
Alejandro Fernandez, Gabriela Bosetti, Sergio Firmenich, and Pascale Zarate. Logikós: Augmenting the web with multi-criteria decision support
Abstract: There are activities that on-line customers daily perform, which involve a multi-criteria decision challenge. Choosing a destination for traveling, buying a book to read, or buying a mobile phone are some examples. Customers analyze and compare alternatives considering a set of shared characteristics, and under certain criteria. E-commerce websites frequently present the information of products without special support to compare them by one or many properties. Moreover support for decision making is limited to sorting, filtering, and side-by-side comparison tables. Consequently, customers may have the feeling that the merchants interests influence their choices, which are no longer grounded on the rational arguments they would like to put in practice. Moreover, the alternatives of interest for the customer are frequently scattered across various shops, with no support to collect and compare them in a consistent and customized manner. In this article, we propose empowering users with multi-criteria decision making support on any website, and across different websites. We also present Logikós, a toolbox supporting multi-criteria decision making depending on the presentation layer of any Web page.
Guoqing Zhao, Shaofeng Liu, Huilan Chen, Carmen Lopez, Jorge Hernandez, Cécile Guyon , Rina Iannacone, Nicola Calabrese, Hervé Panetto, Janusz Kacprzyk, MME Alemany. Value-Chain Wide Food Waste Management: A Systematic Literature Review
Abstract: The agriculture value chain, from farm to fork, has received enormous attention because of its key role in achieving United Nations Global Challenges Goals. Food waste occurs in many different forms and at all stages of the food value chain, it has become a worldwide issue that requires urgent actions. However, the management of food waste has been traditionally segmented and in an isolated manner. This paper reviews existing work that has been done on food waste management in literature by taking a holistic approach, in order to identify the causes of food waste, food waste prevention strategies, and elicit recommendations for future work. A five step systematic literature review has been adopted for a thorough examination of the existing research on the topic and new insights have been obtained. The findings suggest that the main sources of food waste include food overproduction and surplus, food waste caused by processing, logistical inconsistencies, and households. Main food waste prevention strategies have been revealed in this paper include policy solutions, packaging solutions, date-labelling solutions, logistics solutions, changing consumers’ behaviours, and reuse and redistribution solutions. Future research directions such as using value chain models to reduce food waste and forecasting food waste have been identified in this paper. This study makes a contribution to the extant literature in the field of food waste management by discovering main causes of food waste in the value chain and eliciting prevention strategies that can be used to reduce/eliminate relevant food waste.
Do not miss your chance to join the RUC-APS team at the next Model-It simposium in Italy!
Model-It (the International Symposium on Applications of Modelling as an Innovative Technology in the Horticultural Supply Chain) will be held in Molfetta, Italy from June 9 to 12 of 2019.
Deadline for abstract submission has been extended till February 22nd (full versions due on April 30th).
Do not miss the chance to joint the RUC-APS community at PRO-VE 2019 in Turin. Submit your article to the RUC-APS special session on Digital Transformation in Food and Agribusiness Value Chain
- Mareva Alemany – CIGIP- Universitat Politècnica de València – email@example.com
- Angel Ortiz – CIGIP- Universitat Politècnica de València – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jorge Hernandez, University of Liverpool, UK, J.E.Hernandez@Liverpool.ac.uk
On April 26th, RUC-APS will summon multiple stakeholders from the horticultural belt of La Plata to a working session. The goal of the session will be to construct shared understanding in terms of the requirements and challenges in the desicion making processes of horticulture, with special focus in the region of La Plata and the Buenos Aires province.
This event will ocurr in coincidence with the visit to UNLP of representatives of University of Plymouth, University of Lorraine, and University of Liverpool.
The Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA) in Chile has just released a new web-site with information about RUC-APS for the spanish speaking community. In addition, the site provides insight into INIA’s activities and results in the project.
The International Conference on Human Computer Interaction -Interacción 2018 – is the 19th edition of the International Conference promoted by the AIPO and it took place on September 12-14, 2018 at the Universitat de les Illes Balears in Palma (Mallorca, Spain). The conference aimed at providing a forum, both for academia and industry, to exchange ideas and discuss the latest in interactive technology with a multidisciplinary approach. In that context, RUC-APS hosted one special track: Advances and Challenges in HCI in Agriculture
The goal of this special session is to attract representatives of industry and academia that can provide insight into the challenges and advances of effectively bringing ICT to agriculture, from the perspective of HCI.
Four articles were presented:
- Designing ICT for Agriculture (ICT4A) Innovations for Smallholder. Farmers: The Case of Uganda. By Christopher G. Harris and Janet Cox Achora
- Beyond the GUI in agriculture: a bibliographic review, challenges and opportunities. By Andres Rodriguez, Alejandro Fernández and Jorge Hernández Hormazabal
- A Mixed Usability Evaluation on a Multi-Criteria Group Decision Support System in Agriculture. By Julián Grigera, Alejandra Garrido, Pascale Zaraté, Guy Camilleri and Alejandro Fernández
- Using Citizen Science Gamification in Agriculture Collaborative Knowledge Production. By Jonathan Martin, Diego Torres, Alejandro Fernandez, Santiago Pravisani and Guillaume Briend
The special track was organized by:
- Prof. Jorge Hernandez, RUC-APS project Coordinator, ULMS, University of Liverpool, UK, J.E.Hernandez@Liverpool.ac.uk
- Prof. Pascale Zarate, Université de Toulouse Capitole 1, Toulouse, France, Pascale.Zarate@ut-capitole.fr
- Prof. Janusz Kacprzyk, IIntelligent Systems Laboratory – System Research Institute, Poland, Janusz.Kacprzyk@ibspan.waw.pl
- Prof. Hervé Panetto, Research Centre for Automatic Control, University of Lorraine, CNRS, France, Herve.Panetto@univ-lorraine.fr
- Julián Grigera, LIFIA, Facultad de Informática, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina/CIC email@example.com
- Prof. Alejandro Fernández, LIFIA, Faculty of Informátics/CIC, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina firstname.lastname@example.org
by Gabriela Bosetti (UNLP), and Pascale Zarate (UT1C)
GRUS (Group Decision Support System, GRoUp Support) is a Web-based system supporting collective decision processes that take into account the individual preferences of different actors from a same organization. It’s about supporting a multi-criteria approach for solving a concrete problem, in which decision makers must agree on a concrete alternative of solution based in the balance among all of the individual preferences. The system has been used in diverse scenarios in various domains, but not in agriculture.
A particularity within the world of agriculture is that there are still places with a lack of technological support, that may help the farmers to evaluate and explore alternative solutions. In this regard, Wilken et al [Wil90], mention that in Central America and Mexico during the ‘90, there were traditional systems, mainly depending on local group experience-based knowledge that is transferred verbally from one generation to other. We observed that this mechanisms still perseveres in some farms of small or medium size in south america, Argentina in particular . There is still an informality in decision-making, and we would like to know if a system assisting users in the decision process is really helpful for farmers, e.g. if they found that using a system allows them to visualize more alternatives of solution, or if their confidence changes when taking decisions by explicitly entering each criterion and its related weight.
But before contrasting the use of a system against the conventional methodologies, it is essential to evaluate if the current system, designed to support general-purpose decision making, adapts well to the knowledge and specific needs of farmers. A possible way to do this is conductions a concept demonstration script session with the farmers. in this regard, Sutcliffe & Ryan [Sut98] mention that one of the techniques of the SCRAM method for requirements elicitation and validation is providing a designed artefact which users can react to. To do so, prototypes or concept demonstrators can be used. In fact, the authors present a case study where prototypes were developed but had limited functionality, so they choose to run the demonstration as a concept demonstrator script. Røkke et al. [Røk10] also present a work where a combination of prototypes and demonstrator sessions are used to elicit and validate the early acceptance of the stakeholders’ requirements, in the context of a the User Interface Development for the Oil and Gas Industry.
In our case, we have been focused throughout May 2018 in the construction of a demonstrator script to easily show farmers how the system would work to make a decision within their domain. That required us to choose a scenario in the specific domain of the farmers that will participate in the session, to learn about and choose a method (the demonstrator script), to plan the script, to get together to record the sessions of 5 participants (playing the role of farmers) and finally, to edit the recordings and create the demonstrator script (the final video). The result of such experience can be watched in the video below:
Now, the next steps will be to carefully choose the questions that will be asked after each of the steps shown in the video, in order to collect some feedback from the farmers. The experience with the real farmers is planned for October 2018.
As part of his secondment to UNLP (Argentina) Amir Sakka from UT1C (France) conducted a teaching session on Group Decision Support Systems. The session was aimed at academics, researchers, and students of the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences and Forestry of the National University of La Plata. It is part of a series of activities that are central to work packages 10 and 12. The aim of these activities is to pilot UTC1 technology (the Grus system) in agriculture scenarios.
The material used in this session can be downloaded in pdf form from this link.
A video presenting an example session of the Grus system in agriculture was used for demonstration purposes. The demonstrator video is available on-line:
This teaching session will be followed by a hands on experiment to be conducted in the following days.
The European Conference on Operational Research (Euro 2018) took place from July 8th to 11th in Valencia Spain. In the context of this conference, RUC-APS organized three special sessions.
- OR Advances in Agri-Food Systems
- Risk and Uncertainty in Agri-Food Systems
- Supply Chain Modelling and Optimization
In total, 12 articles were presented, some of which were submitted by researchers in the RUC-APS consortium. The detailed program is provided below.
This sessions contributed to the consolidation and expansión of the RUC-APS network, towards risk and uncertainty in agriculture and agri-food systems.
In June 20th, and June 22nd, Prof. Pascale Zarate, from Université Toulouse 1 Capitole conducted two teaching sessions. These sessions were specially aimed at researchers and academics from UPV and from AINIA respectively. The topic of these sessions was Group Decision Support Systems and how these system can improve group efficiency for decision making problems.
This activity is part of the teaching agenda of Prof. Zarate’s secondment to UPV that is currently taking place.
The presentation used during the teaching sessions is available for download here
The Group Decision and Negotiation (GDN) section of the International Federation of Operational Research and Management Science Society (INFORMS) awarded Pascale Zaraté, ADRIA team, on June 12th2018 at the University of d’Aeronotics et Astraunotics, Nanjing, China during the annual international conference GDN organized under the authority of the GDN-INFORMS section. Since 2004, this award is yearly assigned to one researcher for his/her whole activity and his/her involvement in the GDN community. Since 2004, only three women have been awarded: Prof. Katia Sycara, Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science, USA; Prof. Fran Ackerman, Curtin University, Australia and Prof. Pascale Zaraté, Université Toulouse 1 Capitole – IRIT, France.
On June 18th, in the context of her secondment to CNRISPA (Italy), Constanza Jana (INIA, Chile) conducted a teaching session on the various aspects of plant breeding, with particular focus on Artichoke. Plant breading requires in-depth knowledge of the target plant, and a clear definition of improvement goals. Plant breeding techniques are key in nowadays plant species domestication. In the present, only 30 of the 700 domesticated plant species are in use.
The session was targeted at students of the Liceo Scientifico “S. Simone” – Liceo Classico “D. Morea” – Conversano (BA).
On June 12th, Sigrid Vargas Schuldes from INIA Chile , held a teaching session at CNR-ISPA, aimed at CNR-ISPA researchers.
The topic of the session was climate change as an opportunity for sustainable horticultural production in the regions of Los Ríos y Los Lagos (South of Chile). Climate changes enables productive diversification, and new business opportunities specially for small farmers. It therefore calls for new research and development models with a focus on global and local adaptation.
The session presentation can be downloaded here