To help agricultural advisors to propose innovative crop management systems, simulation models can be a complementary tool to field experiments and prototyping. Crop management systems can be modelled either by using a vector representing dates and quantities used as input parameters in crop models or by developing specific decision models linked with biophysical models. The general design process of crop management systems by simulation follows a four-step loop (GSEC): (i) generation; (ii) simulation; (iii) evaluation; (iv) comparison and choice. The Generation step can follow different approaches: from blind generation before simulation to optimization procedures using artificial intelligence algorithms during the loop process. Simulation is mainly an engineering problem. Evaluation process means assigning a vector of indicators to the simulated crop management systems. A three-point evaluation can be carried out on the simulated crop management systems: global, agronomic and analytical. Comparison and choice of different simulated crop management systems raise the question of "monetary" versus "non-monetary" comparison and how to aggregate different quantities such as drainage, nitrogen fertilisers, labour, etc. Different examples are given to illustrate the GSEC loop on the basis of research programs conducted in France. Methodological advances and challenges are then discussed.
- Crop management system