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Abstract

This paper reports and discusses the results of a survey conducted among experts working in the field of decision support systems (DSS) in Australian agriculture. It also reviews the literature on DSS in the light of these experts’ responses. The findings from this survey have consolidated our understanding of the current state of DSS in Australian agriculture. The uptake of DSS by farmers has been slow and various issues said to be contributing to this include fear of using computers, time constraints, poor marketing, complexity, lack of local relevance, lack of end-user involvement, and mismatched objectives between developers and users. The future prospects for the development of DSS were generally regarded as poor. Nevertheless, the authors believe that new DSS which embrace suggested criteria for developing them could be widely accepted by farmers. These criteria mean that to be widely used by farmers, any successful DSS needs to address widespread problems: they need to be location specific, and gain strong support from initial users. They also need to be simple to use, relevant, effective, low cost, and user-friendly, and it is most likely that farmers would have been involved in their development. We believe that farmers’ personalities, and their attitudes towards risk management and decision making, will influence the pattern of adoption of DSS in Australian agriculture while the intergenerational change that is occurring in the management of Australian farms is a positive factor that may encourage more widespread use of these tools.

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