Internet of Dirt

In recent years, Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructures have expanded into the field of agriculture. Some of the applications for IoT in this context includes precision agriculture, livestock monitoring, and smart greenhouses. While these systems are designed in specific ways to fit their environment, they may degrade and fail in unexpected ways that require replacement and repair. In this research, I will study the maintenance of IoT infrastructures in the context of agriculture through 1.) conducting ethnographic field work and 2.) generating design implications for future IoT systems for agriculture. Over the course of the summer, I will examine the interactions between farmers, technicians, IoT infrastructures, and the environment as a way to understand how these systems are maintained across different field sites. These field sites will build upon existing collaborations with CIDA and will include farms that have implemented IoT systems. The fieldwork methods will include participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and design probes as a way of gaining key insights on how these IoT systems are maintained. I will then generate design implications by identifying mismatches between practices at the field sites and current design directions as a way suggest how systems could better meet the needs of the farms. These design implications will support the development of future development of IoT systems for agriculture at local, regional, and global scales.

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