The Washington State University Decision Aid System has been updated for this coming season with new features and an improved user interface. Users will notice that the new format permits more information to be conveyed upon demand without cluttering the basic model output displays, a dramatically easier way of choosing weather stations or setting up user-defined weather stations, direct access to historic model predictions, and a help center where users can find short, narrated movies that show various features of WSU–DAS.
In all screens, there is a new menu bar that groups the various features together in a logical order (see Figure 1). For example, the “View Models” item allows you to view the model output sorted by either location (sorted so that all models for a given location are displayed), model (show a particular model at all locations), or by station group (all stations that you want to view in a group).
The “view models” output has several new features. First, there are several new graph types that are available for several of the models, and users can easily switch between the different views. Second, we have added organic recommendations that can be set as the default (or not) for a particular station shown in Figure 1. Third, we have also added a “view data grid” option that allows the user to see the model output in a tabular form for the last ten days and the upcoming ten days using weather forecasts (see Figure 2). In any of the key screens, users can switch between organic or conventional recommendations by clicking on the appropriate button.
Station selection is also much easier than in previous versions, thanks to the Google Maps interface that allows users to locate the station by typing the city, zip code, address, or latitude and longitude (see Figure 3a). For example, by typing in “Brewster, WA,” the map zooms to that city and shows the AgWeather Net stations that are nearby. You are able to move a small pointer shaped like a tree to your orchard, and then by clicking on the weather stations nearby, you can find the distance and elevation distance between the AgWeather Net station and your orchard, as demonstrated in Figure 3b. If you decide to use a particular station, you then choose that station and indicate which crops are present at that location, models desired, and whether that station should be considered organic or conventional by default. The same Google Maps interface is also used to set up user-defined stations.
We have added a “historic” data feature that allows the user to go back and evaluate integrated pest management timings and the effect they have on pest control. For example, if you are a consultant and recommended that a spray should have been applied on June 12, but the application was not applied until June 19, then the model output will indicate the pest status and management recommendations at the two different times.
This allows you to see if poor timing may have caused a control failure. The system allows four different comparisons (either different stations or pests) to be made at the same time for any of the weather data available for a particular station in the AgWeather Net database. Importation of user weather data has been simplified and allows data to be entered in WSU–DAS by cut and paste, reading data from a text or an Excel file. Using this feature does not allow model output from diseases, because diseases require more than daily maximum and minimum temperatures to give output. Even with the insect models, the user is solely responsible for accuracy of data.
Finally, we have implemented a new “help center” which will feature short, less than two-minute-long narrated screen-capture videos. These videos will demonstrate the various features of WSU–DAS so that users can see the full range of features. A frequently asked questions section will answer a range of common questions and will also allow users to request answers that will automatically be appended to the FAQ list.
The updates of WSU–DAS should make it easier to use, and have dramatically reduced problems with maintenance and simplified programming. In the next year we hope to have smart-phone/personal-digital-assistant-device–friendly Web pages. Users can expect that we will add a section on Oriental fruit moth degree-day calculations so that information needed for export to Mexico is readily available. We have also set up a simple startup screen that allows you to view simultaneously the status of pest populations at all the locations where a selected model occurs in the user profile.