Updated horticultural research software will be available by end of the year

A new version of the MORPH software will be available by the end of the year, researchers at Warwick HRI have revealed.

MORPH, which stands for Methods of Research Practice in Horticulture, is the framework that supports the models developed by the university to help growers and agronomists manage their crops.

These models include those that can forecast pest and disease outbreaks or crop maturity. MORPH processes the models' results as tables, spreadsheets and graphs.

Warwick HRI researchers have consulted with MORPH users - asking them what they think about the look and feel of the software and the kind of problems they use MORPH to anticipate and counteract - to help them develop the new package.

Agronomist Jane Fellows, speaking at the HDC's Vegetable Technology Day last week, said: "We have had a lot of consultation with industry during the development stage ... there's been quite a lot of brainstorming and prototyping."

She added that part of the research team is based at Glasgow Caledonian University. There, PhD student Caroline Park has observed agronomists at work - watching when and where they required data and how they acquired it.

During summer 2006, she conducted five company observation and shadowing sessions for salads, alliums and carrot sectors.

Fellows said: "All of this data has been used to see how this new MORPH5 could be delivered.

"We realise that people want to turn on their PCs in the morning and find out what they need to look at, what they might need to look at, and what they can say is OK."

She revealed that the design-and-build process for the model is in progress, with "a lot of work going on to developing this graphical user interface".

She said: "Things are really happening. It will not be long now."

The latest version of the current model, MORPH4, was released in March 2006. Defra is funding the development of MORPH5.


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