Crop Select Web App

To create a new web platform to track year on year yields of farmer crop growth. Agrimetrics use data science and modelling to underpin sustainability and efficiency. It is a partnership between four founder partners: Rothamsted Research, The University of Reading, National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) and SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College.

Crop Select Web App

Challenge

There was 2 parts to the work that was needed, a soil comparison tool and a means to record crop data and create the models required to produce reports. The former that showed how different types of crops grow under certain conditions (weather, rainfall, soil type) and the latter that allowed a farmer to compare yields year on year. Farmers can then use this data to better predict what crop species to grow and how successful their yield would be.

My Role

I had many responsibilities during this project and wore many hats. I led the product design, I wireframed, designed and built the front end using the Bootstrap framework. The design process involved the following steps:

  • Running workshops with the farmers and visiting them on site
  • Defining the user stories and user journeys
  • Wireframes
  • Prototyping
  • Visual Design
  • Front end development
  • Brand Design
  • Website Design & Development (Marketing site)

Farmers workshop

Before I even got to wireframing, I arranged and ran a workshop with farmers down in Reading to support my theories I had about the farming industry.

As part of the workshop I ran a simple card sorting exercise to categorise the different ways farmers were capturing data. It was interesting to discover that farmers varied wildly on their use of technologies. Some used GPS drones to scan the fields and used sophisticated software to record data, others could barely use a computer and preferred pen and paper to record their yields. I could see it was going to be challenging to get them to adopt a new way of recording data.

Crop Select Web App
Crop Select Web App

Signup

Signup had to be super slick, farmers had previously been used to very technical and difficult to use software to record their data. Every farmer I spoke to was looking for something a lot more straightforward and easy to use. It was also paramount we got as many farmers as we could early on in the pilot to help the solution we were building.

I wanted to make sure that the signup process didnt become a barrier to entry. I designed a simple 3 step signup process to ease them into the platform. This created a farmer profile and created their first field, so they could get on with adding their crop data for the year.

Crop Select Web App
Crop Select Web App
Crop Select Web App

Early wireframes

I spent a good portion of time fleshing out the core MVP features. Farmers would first define all their fields with defineable attributes such as location and soil type. An API was built to store this information. Then I looked at the reporting screens that allowed a farmer to add their annual crop yields. Both API’s were then used to display information back to the farmer. Data recorded by other farmers was anonymised and used in the comparison results.

Crop Select Web App
Crop Select Web App
Crop Select Web App
Crop Select Web App

Phase 2 concepts

With the branding exercise well underway, I started improving the UI. I introduced the new branding and defined a styleguide that was implemented into the core UI.

Crop Select Web App
Crop Select Web App

Logos

A selection of logos that I created as part of the branding exercise.

Crop Select Web App
Crop Select Web App
Crop Select Web App
Crop Select Web App
Crop Select Web App
Crop Select Web App

Marketing site

Shaping Cloud were also appointed to do the marketing collateral, and as part of this, I designed a simple landing page which acted as the primary jump off point for new farmer signups.

The website was built using Bootstrap 3. The website also featured slimmed down versions of the comparison tools we built.

Crop Select Web App

Results

The solution I helped design and build, used APIs with endpoints accessible in realtime to display information directly to the front end. Farmers could filter and view results based on a series of criteria and compare different crop species to decide what best to plant at the best time. A sizeable number of farmers signed up during the pilot and the app was demoed at the Royal Norfolk Show of which Michael Gove attended and he personally vouched for the app and its ease and simplicity of use.

The app has now been migrated into Agrimetrics other core suite of apps and is still in use today as part of their wider API offering.

Crop Select demonstrates the power of the platform. As more farmers use it it will build up a good picture of how varieties perform on different soil types, creating a 'Trip Advisor' for crops.

David Flanders

CEO, Agrimetrics
Tools
  • Sketching,
  • Sketch App,
  • Visual Studio Code
Deliverables
  • UX,
  • Visual Design,
  • Front end development,
  • Branding
Type
  • Public Sector

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