1 Introduction

Grafting is a promising horticultural technique for commercial vegetable production because it can provide vegetable growers a sustainable and eco-friendly practice to manage plant diseases, boost plant nutrient and water absorption, and increase fruit quality. In addition to resources for adopting the grafting practice in the farm, producers need information on how grafting practices affect cost and revenue to make decisions to adopt the technology. Given the volatile yield of grafting plants and unknown grafted transplant prices, producers need to be able to evaluate trade-offs associated with grafting practice, expected yield, and net returns.

Vegetable Grafting Decision Support Tool is developed to allow producers, extension agents, and researchers to compare user-specific production conditions for growing vegetables using grafting and non-grafting practices. The user may specify:

  • State to indicate where the farms/experimental stations are located.
  • Crop name to indicate the crops by specifying crop name,of interests.
  • Scion to indicate the scion used for grafting.
  • Rootstock to indicate the scion used for grafting.
  • Crop type to indicate whether the crop the production is organic or conventional, and the names of scion and rootstock of expected grafting transplants.
  • Production systems to indicate whether the production system is an open field, or high tunnel, or greenhouse production system.tunnels, or greenhouses are used.
  • Other farm characteristics such as the location of the farm, the production season, and farm size.
  • Production season to indicate when the crop is grown.

With the production conditions that users define, the tool provides users with information on the economic conditions (e.g., revenue, cost, net income) of an average vegetable farm with a similar production condition. It allows users to conduct a side-by-side comparison of economic conditions between vegetable farms that use grafting and the ones do not use grafting. There are three main types of economic analysis:

  • Partial Budget Analysis: It compares details that contribute to added or reduced costs and net returns between non-grafting and grafting practices.
  • Sensitivity Analysis: It demonstrates the change in the net returns of non-grafting and grafting practices under various production scenarios and determines the importance of the changing factor that affect the net return.
  • Break-Even Analysis: It calculates the threshold of a factor when non-grafting and grafting practices generate the same net returns.

Besides, the tool allows users to modify the budget sheet and conduct three types of aforementioned economic analysis using values fitting user-specific vegetable farm conditions. Last but not least, the tool aims to deliver the most recent grafting-related research results to vegetable producers. It allows researchers on vegetable grafting to upload the most recent research results to the database on which producers rely to conduct the economic analysis.

This tool is a product of a university, USDA and industry team funded in part by Award #2016-51181-25404 of the USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative titled “Growing new roots: Grafting to enhance resiliency in U.S. vegetable industries.”

1.1 Use Caveats

The default values used in the analysis are based on experimental observations and from existing literature. Changes in parameter values and their implications on net returns are estimates. Users should use their own reasonable judgment to determine whether the direction and magnitudes of economic indicators are appropriate before making and decision on their production practices based on the results from the tool.

As such, this tool is provided ‘as is’ and without warranties as to performance or merchantability. Any statements made by the tool do not constitute warranties and shall not be relied on by the user in deciding whether to use the tool or act on its results. This tool is provided without any expressed or implied warranties whatsoever. The user assumes the entire risk of using the tool. The University of Florida will not be liable for any claim or damage brought against the user by any third party, nor will the University of Florida be liable for any consequential, indirect, or special damages suffered by the user as a result of the software.

2 Access to the Decision Support Tool

The Vegetable Grafting Decision Support Tool is developed using Python Django Web framework. It is a free and open-source Python Web framework provided by the Django Software Foundation.

To access the tool, users may need Internet access and a web browser (Common web browsers are Firefox, Chrome, or IE). The decision support tool can be used by typing the URL address http://graftingtool.ifas.ufl.edu/ in the web browser address bar.

We strongly recommend users use a desktop or laptop to access the tool. Using a tablet or phone may miss some functions.

3 Home Page

Upon visiting the tool’s URL address, users are immediately directed to the homepage of the tool. The homepage of the tool provides an overview of the tool and a role selection section to allow users to select a role best describes themselves in order to access the unique functions that are designed for the role.

3.1 “Select Your Role” Section

At the top of the homepage, users are asked to choose a role better describes themselves (Figure 3.1). By selecting a role, users are directed to a new web page to access their account (For details, please read Section 4) and use functions that are specifically developed for the selected role.

The functions for different roles are:

  • Vegetable Producer:
    • Conduct economic analysis (For details, please read Section 5 and Section 6)
  • Researcher:
    • Conduct economic analysis (For details, please read Section 5 and Section 6)
    • Report new experiment results (For details, please read Section 9)
  • Extension Agent:
    • Conduct economic analysis (For details, please read Section 5 and Section 6)
    • Report new experiment results (For details, please read Section 9)