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Workshop:Current Challenges, Trends and Experiences for Enhancing Agriculture Value Chain Decisions under Uncertainty

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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.

Tag cloud
Tag cloud created by the workshop paticipants

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.

Prof. Shaofeng Liu – keynote at ICEEG 2019

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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

Introduction to ERP systems

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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 .

RUC-APS at the IX International Symposium on Irrigation of Horticultural Crops

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Alejandro Antunes at ISIHC

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.

 

UT1C presenting a joint paper with UNLP at the GDN 2019 conference

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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/).

Members of the UT1C team at GDN 2019

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
(https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-030-21711-2_6)
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.

Keywords
GDSS User experience

RUC-APS was present at the ICDSST 2019, in Portugal

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RUC-APS was present at the International Conference on Decision Support System Technology (ICDSST2019), in Madeira, Portugal, May 27-29.

Shaofeng Liu and Pascale Zaraté at ICDSST-2019
Shaofeng Liu and Pascale Zaraté at ICDSST-2019

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.

Grus demonstrator Video

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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.

RUC-APS at Euro 2018

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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.

Program of RUC-APS sponsored sessions at Euro 2018

 

Presentations snapshots

 

The RUC-APS team at Euro 2018