Interactive software can help decision makers compile and process raw data
Before the widespread introduction of computers into the operations and management departments of shrimp farms, the use of information technology in the industry was mostly dismissed by producers. But as the shrimp-farming industry continued to evolve and mature, it experienced several radical changes in production conditions.
These included, but were not limited to, significant decreases in shrimp market prices, the appearance of new shrimp diseases, and constant changes in production methods and technology. All these factors encourage the adoption of “decision support systems” to become more cost-efficient.
Decision support systems
Decision support systems are computerized information arrangements that support production and organizational decision-making activities. Design support systems are typically interactive, software-based systems intended to help decision makers continuously compile useful information from raw data that includes feedback from routine pond management procedures like formulated feed applications and monitoring of water quality parameters. They also incorporate users’ personal knowledge, technical literature and other sources, and other models to identify and solve problems, and make timely decisions.
Several commercial decision support system programs are available from sources around the world. Lansol S.A. of Islamorada, Florida, USA, distributes the AP/1 system. CSIRO Marine Research, based in Cleveland, Queensland, Australia, sells Pondman 2. From Bangkok, Thailand, Applied Information Systems Co., Ltd. offers a system called Samakia.
These decision support systems present benefits that can be summarized into three main categories: minimizing costs, maximizing profits, and avoiding negative environmental impacts. Table 1 presents some of the target functions available from the major software programs on the market.
There obviously are similarities and a common purpose among the programs above, but each provides some unique features. The AP/1 system emphasizes economic aspects and feed control. Pondman is particularly extensive in water quality and equipment used for production, while Samakia’s friendly user interface emphasizes the administrative aspects of shrimp farming.
All these programs were developed based on ideas provided by many producers and manufacturers. Due to the constant changes in the shrimp industry, this development task continuously evolves. There is always room for improvement and new developments.
By evaluating weight samples, feed samples, survival estimates, and overall shrimp-farming experience, powerful management tools like decision support system software can help shrimp producers improve their data collection and analysis, and effectively use the data in their management decision processes to maximize cost efficiency.
(Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the December 2003 print edition of the Global Aquaculture Advocate.)
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