APSIM: Predict How Crops will Turn Out Without Tying up Land for Tests
Testing new farming methods was once a long and expensive process. It required planting test plots, tracking them for at least a season, and measuring results during and after the test period. These plots required a large amount of space, typically several acres, to produce significant results. The land was then tied up for the duration of the test, and in most cases, this meant that it couldn't be used in an economically-gainful way during this period.
Because of these difficulties, farmers typically didn't test new methods themselves. Instead, they had to wait for universities or big farming conglomerates to do them, and then hope they'd be able to see the results. Inevitably, many were left behind.
This is changing thanks to APSIM, a program that allows simulations of farm results based on various input factors. The acronym stands for Agricultural Production Systems sIMulator, and it can simulate plant, animal, soil, climate, and management interactions to produce accurate predictions of results. Because of this, there is much less of a need for expensive, time-consuming, real-time modeling of farming ideas.
Even better, APSIM isn't limited to use by large organizations, though there is a commercial license available. It can also be downloaded for non-commercial use, thereby allowing universities, smaller schools, and even individuals to gain a better understanding of how various factors involved in food production work together.
Students at universities get to try both simulated and real crop modelling as part of their studies. APSIM allows them to test far more scenarios, thereby expanding their educational experience even when limitations prevent the physical testing of every possible option.