CSU team develops new environmental impact software

While agriculture has always been an essential piece of American society, environmental concerns regarding inefficient resource management and distribution are sparking changes in modern agriculture. Farmers, ranchers, and other producers are taking a more serious look at the environmental impacts of their practices and are examining new environmentally responsible approaches that do not decrease efficiency. Now, a new piece of software developed at Colorado State University will help producers better understand the environmental impact of their work.

Software to optimize resource allocation

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The software, called the Ecosystem Services and Farm Management Optimization Tool, has been developed by Trung Nguyen, a PhD student in CSU’s Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. Nguyen is advised by CSU Professor Keith Paustian, who worked with him as he developed the software. The software consists of two main components that work together to optimize resource allocation. The two components, ecological qualification and an optimization component help the software to essentially measure how the environment would respond when input levels, such as fertilizer or water, are changed.

According to Nguyen, the software has the ability to support farm management decision making for crop lands in the United States at individual farm or agricultural landscape scales with user-defined time frames (1-50 years). This feature allows for versatility within the software and will be relevant for a large variety of farmers.

Multidisciplinary collaborations allow for software development

Nguyen has been assisted by two students from CSU’s Department of Computer Science, Chen Wang and Jialing Zheng, and one from the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, Maxwell Cook. The work of these students “is a great example of multidisciplinary collaborations and efforts of applying what students learned in school with practical concepts to create useful applications,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen’s approach combines his academic background at both CSU and Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry in Vietnam.

Finalization for software development

The software development team is now finalizing the package and running a demonstration with irrigated corn production systems in Larimer County, CO. Nguyen hopes that the development of this new software will optimize land management and maximize the delivery of ecosystem services for any cropland region in the United States.

To learn more about the software, watch the YouTube video for a quick overview.