- Press Release Distribution

New digital tool enables farmer’s decisions for sustainable agriculture

DAKIS takes multifunctional and diversified agriculture from theory to practice


A new ‘digital decision support tool’ enabling the transition towards more diversified and sustainable agricultural systems has been developed by an international team of researchers from Germany, France, and Czech Republic.


The research led by Dr Ioanna Mouratiadou from the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research, and published in Environmental Science and Ecotechnology, presents the ‘Digital Agricultural Knowledge and Information System (DAKIS)’ as a data integration framework focused on linking science and strategic decision-making with farm operation and management.


Shift in focus in the agriculture sector

Priorities of the agriculture sector and the broader economy have shifted considerably with time. In the past, the sector’s focus was primarily on delivering agricultural products and services. Now, the focus is increasingly on taking environmental aspects such as ecosystem services, biodiversity, land use, and climate change into account. Renewed policy ambitions at the EU level such as the new Common Agricultural Policy objectives as well as at the global level through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG2: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”) further reflect this shift.


The drive to transform agricultural systems to become multifunctional, diversified, and therefore, more sustainable epitomizes this ‘paradigm shift in priorities’.  Such ‘new age’ farming focuses on the numerous benefits arising from optimal agricultural decisions and aims to leverage upon the functions of ecological diversity at various spatial scales. Of course, a balance also needs to be struck with other factors across social, economic, and political dimensions that prevail upon land use and agriculture decisions. While sounding promising in theory, putting such comprehensive and considerate farming systems into practice is a considerable task both conceptually and technically.  


Digitalization in agriculture has significant potential to address this challenge but gaps remain when it comes to the development and deployment of frameworks, technologies, and tools that integrate large datasets, extract critical analysis from the data, involve citizen science, and translate all of this information into “actionable crop management options”.



The development of DAKIS

In response to the identified challenge(s), authors of this study developed DAKIS as a conceptual framework and also a technologically advanced tool. The study described DAKIS as a “knowledge-based” and “systems-oriented data integration framework that incorporates digital technologies to support highly complex and innovative decision-making”.


DAKIS was developed through a tri-pronged approach of ‘iterative and participatory’ knowledge co-production via extensive stakeholder consultations, review of scientific literature as well as commercial information on 643 digital tools, and a more in-depth critical examination of 42 tools selected for completeness in terms of function and for representing technological state-of-the art. Collectively this process established the aim, spatiotemporal scope, functionality and user interface requirements for DAKIS.


The ‘core functions’ of DAKIS are identified as (i) monitoring production, biodiversity, and ecosystem services, (ii) providing decision support for farm operations, and (iii) supporting communication and collaboration. This conceptual knowledge fed into construction of the DAKIS tool via the ‘design thinking’ approach creating the technical skeleton, delineating different structural components, and interfaces.


To the reader, it is clear that DAKIS has tackled the gargantuan task of synthesizing massive volumes of information collated from remote sensing, in situ monitoring, and GIS mapping data sets, outputs of cross-dimensional economic and environmental effects modelling, and information from participatory impact assessments across diverse farming systems and spatiotemporal scales.


How does this play out in practice? For a moment, imagine yourself as a farmer looking at the Graphical User Interface (GUI) of this tool to set operation preferences and specifying land use objectives. The information provided by you, as the end-user, will be matched against extensive site- and region-specific information available in the platform by a ‘dynamic AI system’ applying a rule-based approach to identify optimal combinations of land use and management. As the end result, you (as the farmer here) will be presented with a range of scenarios and optimal management options for the set objectives and preferences.


The vision of DAKIS is that it “will facilitate/provide site-specific optimization recommendations” enabling end-users to make agricultural decisions to minimize harmful impacts, trade-offs, and conflicts.



DAKIS is currently being tested in two agriculturally diverse regions of Brandenburg and Bavaria in Germany. The publication presents a ‘use case’ – an example of how this tool can be typically used – for establishing grassland buffer patches in Brandenburg. Grassland buffers are landscape elements that provide multiple ecosystem services such as erosion control, carbon sequestration, habitats for pollinators among others.


The Brandenburg use case aimed to determine the optimal design and placement of grassland buffers to maintain agriculture yield while controlling soil erosion better. The selection was informed by DAKIS by analysing remote sensing data to develop an erosion hotspot analysis, assessing multi-annual yield maps, and developing a central criterion that establishment of grasslands must be prioritized on areas with low yield potential and high erosion control potential. An inbuilt system component – the RETE reasoner – then selected optimal locations that fit the criterion. By feeding developed spatially explicit criteria into a series of agroecological, agronomic, and societal demand models, DAKIS compared ecosystem services between current land use versus buffer establishment, selected optimal grass and crop types for each location, and identified locations with greater potential for stakeholder cooperation over conflict.


The final output on the GUI to the farmer was a set of maps and qualitative information recommending best-suited locations and optimal management options for the grassland buffers. Information provided by DAKIS could also be exported to external services such as Farm Management and Information Systems (FMIS) to display and further implement the recommendations.


Uptake of technology and future steps

The study highlights the tremendous potential of digital tools, with spotlight on DAKIS, to transform agriculture and promote more sustainable practices. As the world faces worsening environmental challenges, the use of such technology in agriculture will play increasingly crucial roles in helping build more resilient and sustainable food systems.


“A principal novelty of DAKIS is that it uses digital technologies to enable the consideration of ecosystem services, biodiversity, and sustainability into farmers' decision-making, and providing a decision support system through which farmers are informed and guided towards site-adapted, small-scale, multifunctional, and diversified agriculture along self-defined avenues” as clearly seen in the Brandenburg use case.


The authors write that “In a perfect world, the demand placed by society on the provision of ecosystem services would be satisfied by farmers with the help of DAKIS”, while remarking that in reality such solutions would require strong buy-in(s) from not only farm-level actors but also industries and policymakers. The potential of DAKIS to be useful beyond sub-farm levels – for instance, to policymakers in analysing the effectiveness of agriculture schemes and removing harmful subsidies needs further investigation. 


Due to the rapidly developing nature of this field, digital technologies in agriculture will need to become more innovative to keep pace with the speed of new information. With foresight, the developers of DAKIS have already made their framework design adaptable and flexible to incorporate new data connections where needed. While the study mentions “the vision of multifunctional and diversified agriculture can only get adopted if it represents a viable economic alternative to the prevailing agricultural systems”, DAKIS clearly is an important step in the right direction.   



CRISPR/Cas9 reveals a key gene involved in the evolution of coral skeleton formation

CRISPR/Cas9 reveals a key gene involved in the evolution of coral skeleton formation
Baltimore, MD—New work led by Carnegie’s Phillip Cleves uses cutting-edge CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing tools to reveal a gene that’s critical to stony corals’ ability to build their reef architectures. It is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Stony corals are marine invertebrates that build large skeletons, which form the basis of reef ecosystems. These biodiversity hotspots are home to about a quarter of known marine species. “Coral reefs have ...

Human factors affect bees’ communication, researchers find

Human factors affect bees’ communication, researchers find
Human influences have the potential to reduce the effectivity of communication in bees adding further stress to struggling colonies, according to new analysis. Scientists at the University of Bristol studying honeybees, bumblebees and stingless bees found that variation in communication strategies are explained by differences in the habitats that bees inhabit and differences in the social lifestyle such colony size and nesting habits. The findings, published today in PNAS, reveal that anthropogenic change, such as habitat conversion, climate change and the use of agrochemicals, are altering the world bees occupy, and it is becoming increasingly clearer that this affects communication ...

Coaxing hair growth in aging hair follicle stem cells

·  Regulating cell mechanics stimulates hair growth in mice ·  Next step will be testing if delivering microRNA via nanoparticles grows hair ·  Potential for human hair growth   CHICAGO --- Just as people’s joints can get stiff as they age and make it harder for them to move around, hair follicle stem cells also get stiff, making it harder for them to grow hair, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.  But if the hair follicle’s stem cells are softened, ...

Cure Mito Foundation launches resource on Leigh syndrome

Cure Mito Foundation launches resource on Leigh syndrome
McKinney, TX., June  5, 2023 - The Cure Mito Foundation, a parent-led organization dedicated to advancing research and treatments for Leigh syndrome, has launched the first-of-its-kind online resource about Leigh syndrome,  the  most common type of pediatric mitochondrial disease.  The free resource, “About Leigh Syndrome” (, serves as a central place where patients, caregivers and doctors can find information on Leigh syndrome, including its symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and more. Translation ...

Tools to assess crime risk for young cohorts are likely to fail over time if they ignore social change

Risk assessment instruments (RAIs) are widely used to inform high-stakes decision making in the criminal justice system and other areas, such as health care and child welfare. These tools typically assume a relation between predictors and outcomes that does not vary with time. But because societies change, this assumption may not hold in all settings, generating what a new study calls cohort bias—a bias resulting from cohort-wide influences not experienced by past or future cohorts. The study, by researchers ...

Direct air capture technology licensed to Knoxville-based Holocene

Direct air capture technology licensed to Knoxville-based Holocene
An innovative and sustainable chemistry developed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory for capturing carbon dioxide from air has been licensed to Holocene, a Knoxville-based startup focused on designing and building plants that remove carbon dioxide from atmospheric air. “ORNL is tackling climate change by developing numerous technologies that reduce or eliminate emissions,” said Susan Hubbard, ORNL deputy for science and technology. “But with billions ...

Fetal exposure to PCBs affects hearing health later in life

Music, mice, and microscopic imaging combine to provide new insight into the effects of environmental chemicals on hearing loss. Researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology found that early exposure to an environmental chemical called polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, made it more difficult for mice to recover from sound-related trauma sustained later in life. Their paper appears in the Journal of Neuroscience. PCBs are carcinogenic compounds formerly used in industrial and consumer products. Although they were banned in the United States in 1979 and haven’t seen industrial use in decades, their highly ...

Quantum computers are better at guessing, new study demonstrates

Daniel Lidar, the Viterbi Professor of Engineering at USC and Director of the USC Center for Quantum Information Science & Technology, and first author Dr. Bibek Pokharel, a Research Scientist at IBM Quantum, achieved this quantum speedup advantage in the context of a “bitstring guessing game.”  They managed strings up to 26 bits long, significantly larger than previously possible, by effectively suppressing errors typically seen at this scale. (A bit is a binary number that is either zero or one). Quantum computers promise to solve certain problems with an advantage that increases as the ...

New discoveries about where atherosclerotic plaques rupture can lead to preventive treatments

A common cause of myocardial infarction and stroke is the rupture of atherosclerotic plaques. The exact location of plaque ruptures has previously been unknown, but now researchers at Lund University have mapped this. The research team has also identified an enzyme, a marker, that they hope will help predict who is at risk of having a myocardial infarction or a stroke due to a ruptured atherosclerotic plaque.  In atherosclerosis , fat  is accumulated in the artery walls creating atherosclerotic ...

Webb Space Telescope detects universe’s most distant complex organic molecules

Webb Space Telescope detects universe’s most distant complex organic molecules
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Researchers have detected complex organic molecules in a galaxy more than 12 billion light-years away from Earth – the most distant galaxy in which these molecules are now known to exist. Thanks to the capabilities of the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope and careful analyses from the research team, a new study lends critical insight into the complex chemical interactions that occur in the first galaxies in the early universe. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign astronomy and physics professor Joaquin Vieira and graduate student Kedar Phadke collaborated with researchers at Texas A&M ...


Researchers discover disease-causing stem cells in lungs of cystic fibrosis patients

Combating distrust online: New GW study explains why current messaging efforts may not be effective

When needs compete, love trumps thirst

NIH awards merit grant for nanofiber research targeting metastatic lung tumors

UTA research: Wildlife loss five times slower in protected areas

Milestone for novel atomic clock

NSF backs Rice processor design, chip security research

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital unveils the Domino’s Village

U of M Medical School professor receives $3.5 million to develop Tanzanian reproductive health curriculum for those with disabilities

How liver cells become scarring, and worse

Does form follow function? Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers advance understanding of why cell parts look the way they do

New study finds children of color and from low-income families are exposed to more toxic chemicals and experience greater harm

Community mobility and depressive symptoms during the pandemic

Cannabis use frequency and cannabis-related consequences in high-risk young adults across cannabis legalization

Decriminalizing drug possession not linked to higher overdose death rates in Oregon or Washington

Impact of genes linked to neurodevelopmental diseases found in Stanford Medicine-led study

Powering the quantum revolution: Quantum engines on the horizon

New proof for black hole spin

Monitoring of radio galaxy M87 confirms black hole spin

Desalination system could produce freshwater that is cheaper than tap water

Protecting lands slows biodiversity loss among vertebrates by five times

How an audience changes a songbird’s brain

Organic lasers have a bright future

Women’s mood worsens during ‘pill pause’ period of monthly contraceptive pill cycle

Teams investigate material degradation process of carbon-based catalyst

Team examines importance of zeolite in catalysts for syngas conversion

AI chest X-ray model analysis reveals race and sex bias

Integration propels machine vision

Blocking abnormal stem cell signal during aging lessens related bone loss

Henry Ford Health first in Michigan to introduce advanced prostate diagnostic technology

[] New digital tool enables farmer’s decisions for sustainable agriculture
DAKIS takes multifunctional and diversified agriculture from theory to practice