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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Discover the DEXiFruits tool

Short history

Assessing the sustainability of a cropping system is complex. For field crops, the MASC tool is used along with the qualitative decision-aid software DEXi, which can break down all complex decision problems into sub-problems that are easier to resolve. MASC has shown its worth, but its use remains to be optimised (long calculation times). In parallel, easier-to-use tools intended for research - DEXiPM- have been developed for several production sectors. These tools allow users to design[1] innovative and sustainable cropping systems. They exist for field crops, viticulture, vegetables and apples (DEXiPM_Pomefruit®). In fruit-tree production, however, professionals want to use this type of tool, adapted to field conditions, to be able to assess performances of their existing cropping systems or those in which changes are envisioned.

The DEXiFruit tool was developed in response to this demand. It is derived from the DEXiPM_Pomefruit® tool developed for apples and pears.

DEXiFruits: a hierarchical decision tree

DEXiFruits is a tool that can assess the sustainability of orchards.

It appears as a hierarchical decision tree (Figure 1). This structure allows it to divide sustainability into its 3 pillars (a complex approach), then into indicators (aggregated criteria) and finally into data easily acquired in the field (input criteria).

DEXiFruits has 81 aggregated criteria and 57 input criteria.

Input criteria

Input criteria correspond either to the description of the context of the orchard assessed (23 criteria) or to lists that can describe certain agronomic practices and system results (34 criteria).

Each criterion is defined according to qualitative classes, such as “low, medium, high”.

Certain criteria, however, are quantitative (e.g. yield). In DEXiFruits, the classes of these quantitative criteria are defined by threshold values (Figure 2), which are parametrised (or need to be parametrised) for each species.

DEXiFruits - Fig2
Figure 2 : Example of correspondance between classes (qualitative) and threshold values (quantitative) of an input criterion

Aggregated criteria

Aggregated criteria, located upstream of input criteria, associate step-by-step the information in the criteria of the lower levels on which they depend, according to weighting that reflects the importance of each. Each criterion is aggregated using “utility functions”, which exist as tables defined by expert opinion according to qualitative “IF-THEN” reasoning, such as:

 IF « criterion 1 is ‘very low » AND IF « criterion 2 is ‘low’ to ‘medium »

THEN « aggregated criterion is ‘very low »

In DEXiPM tools (unlike MASC tools), each criterion (aggregated or input) can be used multiple times in the tree, making it “linked”. DEXiFruit contains 254 linked criteria.

Reference system

When DEXiFruits is parametrised for a species, a reference system (or typical system) is created (Figure 3). A reference system is a hypothetical system that represents the national average of production systems for the given species.

DEXiFruits - Fig3
Figure 3: Illustration of the concept of a reference system

The reference system is used to compare its performances to those of the system studied. It also can be used to supply a missing input criterion when assessing the production system and to decontextualize the assessement (i.e. use the context of the reference system for several systems to compare only their practices). It also can serve as a basis for discussion.

Output in summary graphs

By using the IZIEval interface, assessment results from DEXiFruits are represented as the following:

  • summary graphs, which are completely adjustable according to the assessment objective
  • a dashboard, which presents an overall assessment of the production system, identifying its strengths and weaknesses


The graphs can represent any criterion (input or aggregated) and assess one or more orchards at the same time:

DEXiFruits - Fig4
Figure 4: Graphs generated by the IZIEval interface depending on the number of criteria selected


The dashboard can visualise all or a part of the tree. Each criterion is coloured according to its sustainability (green = high, red = low). The dashboard allows users to assess the orchard in detail and to auto-assess its strong and weak points.

The dashboard (Figure 5) also can identify mechanisms (production practices or characteristics of the context) with greater influence on orchard performances. It also serves as a good aid for workgroup discussions about the sustainability of orchards.

DEXiFruits - Fig5
Figure 5: Extact of the dashboard for a production system

[1] Messéan et al, 2010, Outils d’évaluation et d’aide à la conception de stratégies innovantes de protection des grandes cultures, Innovations Agronomiques, 8, 69-81