Data integration issues for a farm GIS-based spatial decision support system

  • Marion Jones

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Farming has a unique role to play in shaping the landscape and enhancing our environment. In recent years, the industry has declined and no longer makes a significant contribution to the national economy. The impact of animal diseases such as BSE and Foot and Mouth has reduced consumer confidence in the quality of food produced. The UK Government, through the introduction of funding schemes, is aiding the recovery of the industry by encouraging farmers to diversify their farming enterprise. One option is the conversion from intensive to organic farming practices, a decision that involves a high level of risk and uncertainty. This research proposes a role for GIS as a decision support tool for a farm manager exploring the options for organic conversion.

    Where data is captured and held in multiple applications, the GIS-based Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS) must integrate data and models. The use of the GIS must be intuitive, allowing the farm manager to explore different scenarios for land allocation effectively. The interface must allow the amendment of input parameters and present the results from each scenario in a clear, understandable format. This functionality raises important data handling issues that are investigated through the development of a prototype GIS.

    The identification and assessment of relevant datasets and the seamless integration of data are fundamental to the design of the GIS. Metadata, adhering to international guidelines, are identified as the chief means for discovering, exploring and acquiring spatial datasets from diverse sources. An assessment of the quality and accuracy of the data is essential if they are to be the basis for decision support. Interoperability issues are discussed and suggestions are proposed for the successful integration of data and models for the SDSS through the GIS interface. By providing a visual medium in which alternative strategies can be evaluated, the GIS will enhance the quality of the final decision made by the farm manager.
    Date of AwardApr 2003
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorGeorge Taylor (Supervisor)


    • Geographic information systems
    • Farm management.

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