The Future Use and Development of Expert System Technology in Horticulture

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  • 1 Associate Professor, Department of Horticulture, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802-4200.
  • | 2 Associate Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802-4200.
  • | 3 Assistant Professor, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802-4200.
  • | 4 Associate Professor, Department of Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802-4200.

Decreasing resources and increasing complexity of horticultural crop production necessitate that new technologies be developed to transfer information to commercial producers. Expert systems (ES) have been cited as potential tools that can facilitate knowledge transfer. The definitions of an expert system, however, technically only indicates a computer program that simulates the thought processes of a human expert and, as such, does not supply all the facets necessary to assist commercial producers. The combination of databases, graphic capabilities, and textual information into a comprehensive program would provide a more complete package. To differentiate the two, we use the term decision support systems (DSS). The development, testing, and release of DSS, however, require greater commitment and interdisciplinary cooperation. Developing DSS fosters interstate, interregional, and international cooperation among researchers and extension personnel. Using systems developed in fruit production as examples, we outline the value of DSS to promote cooperation, the resources necessary to develop these systems; and the attitudinal change necessary to build the systems.

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