Designing user-centered IoT solutions for small-scale and mid-scale farmers
Author(s)Wong, Julia C. (Julia Cheuk-Yi)
Designing user-centered Internet of Things solutions for small-scale and mid-scale farmers
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Integrated Design and Management Program.
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The UN predicts that by the year 2030, the global water demand will outstrip supply by 40%. In face of the global water crisis, it is crucial to increase irrigation efficiency in agriculture, which currently consumes 70% of the global freshwater supply. Studies have shown that using precision agricultural technology to control irrigation can reduce water consumption by as much as 20% and increase crop yield by up to 30% in developing countries. Such technologies, however, are inaccessible to millions of small-scale farmers who need them the most because of their prohibitive costs and design intended for large-scale farming businesses. To address this technological gap, social enterprise SoilSense delivers affordable and robust IoT soil sensor systems to small-scale farmers, empowering them to irrigate more efficiently by providing data on when and where to irrigate based on soil measurements. This study analyzes existing literature on irrigation and soil sensor technology and applies a human-centered design approach to understand the needs of an underserved user group: smallscale and medium-scale avocado farmers. By engaging these farmers and subject matter experts in the field, key insights are drawn on the nuances of avocado cultivation, challenges in irrigation and water management, and the use of technology and data analytics in farming. This user research highlights the small-scale and medium-scale farmers' pain points and their vision for how technology could improve their operations. In addition to informing the iterative design of the SoilSense system prototype and business model, this study also endeavors to help address the global water crisis through continuous innovation and advancement in IoT agricultural technology.
Thesis: S.M. in Engineering and Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, System Design and Management Program, 2018.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 117-123).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering and Management Program.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Integrated Design and Management Program.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Engineering and Management Program., Integrated Design and Management Program.