As part of the EFFORT project, which is focussed on the transition of dairy farms to an efficient use of fodder resources, we investigated tools designed for this purpose.
We also looked into the relationship that users have with these tools or the ideas they underpin, and in doing so we observed a certain reluctance. There are multiple reasons for this reluctance, such as cost, accessibility, support or appropriation. We explored this last factor, the appropriation of tools by users, in discussion groups.
What this means is that, while the tools have been conceived and built by designers, they are not always suitable for their target users and are therefore not widely adopted. Taking one measurement instrument and associated computer programme as a case study, the Rising Plate Meter and Pâtur'plan, we organised meetings with a group of farmers and a group of advisers, in order to examine their relationship with the tools.
We found that it can be difficult to make use of the opportunities offered by devices, whether simple or more advanced technologies, which do not fit into the daily lives of farmers or are not in line with their practical knowledge. It is therefore essential that their perspective and practices are taken into account when designing a tool, whose objective would then be to support this practice rather than imposing a fresh approach. Based on these conclusions, we have begun to develop a new project: Sunshine.
In conducting this new project, we will be working on a new grassland management tool with the clear intention of taking into consideration the needs and expertise of farmers in its development through preliminary work, and then continue this process towards participation.