OPERATIONS RESEARCH AND ORNAMENTAL HORTICULTURE
During the early days of scientific investigation on crops and their culture, small changes in the intensity of a factor resulted in large differences in growth and yield. The value of changing practices or the intensity of the factor was determined easily because the main effects were much more important than the interactions. Concurrent study or concurrent change of various interrelating and interacting factors was not necessary; often it was not even desirable.
Today, however, it is difficult to increase yield by changing the type or intensity of various cultural practices, and the effects of such changes are hard to predict. The interactions have become more important than the main effects.
Because of the need for more complex analysis, a different or new approach towards evaluating horticultural production is desirable. What had been done intuitively in former years must now be committed to paper. The approach adopted must be one that will permit a thoroughly rational approach and should be able to cope with many factors and simultaneous interactions. It should be able to identify problem areas or areas where research activities will be productive. It should be able to evaluate new or alternative procedures, practices, or machines. It should be able to evaluate overall performance. It should be able to provide for synthesis as well as analysis.
The use of the various methods of operations research provides us with the means of reaching rational decisions on complex situations involving many factors and simultaneous interactions. With operations research, synthesis of production systems is possible without the costly and time consuming trial and error procedures, systems are tailored to individual needs and objectives, resources are more adequately spent on those areas where the greatest dividends will result. Operations research (OR) focusses attention on the interactions and interrelationships during the concurrent study of the various factors that influence plant growth and profit.