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Usability As A Challenge In Precision Agriculture

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Computers in Agriculture and Natural Resources, 4th World Congress Conference, Proceedings of the 24-26 July 2006 (Orlando, Florida USA) Publication Date 24 July 2006  701P0606.(doi:10.13031/2013.21853)
Authors:   Hannu E. S. Haapala
Keywords:   Precision Agriculture, Markets, Acceptance, Usability, Evaluation, Human-Machine Interface, Virtual Terminal, ISOBUS, User-Centered Design

There is an apparent problem in the innovation chain of Precision Agriculture. PA applications are not penetrating the markets as quickly as PA researchers and experts believe they should. Usability has not been a central issue in electronics development in agriculture. Thus, poor usability of the products is a potential explanation for the situation.

Precision Agriculture is a complex and challenging topic for usability developers since mobile work and complex machine combinations are typical to PA. What's more, PA fieldwork is also safety critical as the drivers attention is distributed to multiple simultaneous work tasks.

To demonstrate the situation, a case study of usability evaluation was made. In the case study, usability of the HMI (Human-Machine Interface) of an ISOBUS Virtual Terminal was evaluated. The evaluation was performed in the context of precision combined drilling. Case study results show that usability evaluation helps to detect design deficiencies in electronic control of mobile PA.

To ease the acceptance and use of new technology in agriculture, a user-centered product development should be introduced. The involvement of the users not only helps to create more usable products but also provides predictions of the acceptance of them when launched on the market.

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