Step 1. In order to evaluate the benefits and costs of alternative farming strategies, we first need to identify a bit about farmers’ own practices, such as the number and variety of crop rotations they use, the types of cultivation they rely on, and how they fertilize their fields. The initial page helps to capture that information.
Step 2. On the next page, we ask farmers about the outcomes of their current farming practices. This helps us to compare their outcomes with the outcomes of some alternative farming strategies. Here we ask about elements like the farmers’ soil health, weed seedbank, quality of life and their costs of weeding.
Step 3. Next, we want to know about what organic farmers find to be most important. Do they prize sustainable productivity over minimizing costs? Do they prefer a healthy amount of soil organic matter to rapid water infiltration? These answers will help to identify the best performing weed management strategies.
Step 4. One of the key elements of the DSF is that it allows farmers to see how their own strategy compares with alternative weed management strategies. The DSF provides estimates of how each strategy, including their own, performs 4-5 years into the future based on various objectives; a farmer can use this information to compare each strategy.
Not only does the DSF provide numbers, it also presents easy-to-interpret graphics that make the trade-offs between different strategies more clear.