Although mechanistic or process-based predictive approaches are powerful tools that can be used to provide insights into tree dynamics, they are often complex and lack user-friendly graphical user interfaces (GUIs).
Lack of an easy to use GUI prevents most models from being used by more than a handful of researchers, let alone the nursery industry as a whole.
We have developed a GUI that standardizes model/interface coupling and simplifies end user operation. This user-friendly environment for our process-based model is an effective way to increase its application beyond the research community.
We chose to apply a Graphical User Interface for Crop Simulations (GUICS) that is both user friendly, capable of running numerous crop simulators, and available as freeware from the USDA.
Why a GUICS interface:
1. Free access
2. Users can build variations on a scenario - a key component of our software requirements.
3. WIMP interface (Windows, Icons, Menus, and Pointers
4. Other features: consistency, directness, feedback, forgiveness, simplicity, and user-in-control.
Figure 1 illustrates how the software presents data categories, where the user can simply click on tabs to change from one data category to another.
Figure 2 illustrates the data format for data within the specific category (in this instance the TREE DATA category). The user simply clicks on the cell of interest and types in the value.
After the model is run within the software, results can be immediately presented in graphical or tabular form. Figure 3 illustratesan example of four different variables that can be graphically viewed after the simple point and click of a mouse.
The software makes the science behind the developed models accessible to every-day users, enabling an accurate decision support tool to reach a wide audience.
Our goal is also to provide an intuitive user interface to manipulate and organize the input data needed for our simulation model.
Mechanistic models are a powerful and robust means to estimate tree water use in both nurseries and landscape trees. Once perfected and validated, the models provide a realistic and economically feasible method of quantifying tree water use under almost any imaginable nursery or landscape condition. The software interface then extends the usability beyond the research community and attempts to transfer technology to end-users.
Please direct all questions and comments on this information to Dr. Bill Bauerle firstname.lastname@example.org.