by Gráinne Dilleen, Communications Coordinator and a PhD Researcher at Waterford Institute of Technology and Dave Hearne, Senior UX Designer/Developer at Walton Institute
DEMETER is an EU-funded project which aims to facilitate and speed-up the deployment of interoperable, data-driven, smart farming solutions that provide decision support and control systems for the agricultural sector.
This will empower farmers to make better decisions, allowing them to harness the full value of their own data and knowledge, as well as those shared with others.
New agronomic practices and technologies have been promoted to make the agricultural sector more sustainable. However, they have not been adopted on a large-scale by farmers often due to technological or economic aspects.
With this in mind, DEMETER fosters the development of research, the uptake of innovations into operational applications, and the creation of new ideas thanks to interactions between actors, to encourage the sharing of knowledge, experiences and expertise. This is done through a Multi-Actor Approach (MAA) which aims to make innovation fully demand-driven and involves various actors (farmers/farmer groups, advisors, businesses, etc.) during the development cycle.
DEMETER applies and monitors this MAA through the implementation of 20 pilot projects where farmers across Europe test various agri-innovations. Farmers generate feedback on their experiences in using these technologies and how the data is managed and used on farm.
These pilots demonstrate that the combination of digital interoperability with the MAA concept facilitates the creation and uptake of innovations in the interest of farmers.
To achieve the MAA, DEMETER follows farmer-centered design principles by focusing on real needs and concerns and developing solutions through co-creation practices. These practices include farmer interviews, focus groups, surveys and collaborative workshops.
These workshops take place in many forms, from co-designing components through design workshops, to identifying the correct phrasing and terminology for farmers and technology providers through data workshops. This process helps us change the narrative from ‘designing for’ to ‘designing with’ farmers. Involving farmers in the design and development process promotes better trust and uptake in technology and lessens the uncertainty traditionally associated with adoption.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gráinne Dilleen is the DEMETER Communications Coordinator and a PhD Researcher at Waterford Institute of Technology.
Her research is focused on understanding the factors which influence farmers’ intention to adopt smart technologies.
Dave Hearne is a Senior UX Designer/Developer at Walton Institute.
Within DEMETER he is responsible for driving the multi-actor approach, ensuring innovation is demand driven.