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The DDHT Project

Designing a Digital Horticultural Toolbox

Purdue University IRB Protocol #: 2022-841

The DDHT Project Vision

To identify common production challenges faced by fruit and vegetable growers in the Midwest and design digital tools to assist growers in addressing them.

Study Goals

We seek to understand the production challenges faced by Midwestern fruit and vegetable growers and how they utilize information when encountering them. We also seek to understand how digital tools may help growers overcome these challenges and what the requirements of those tools would be.

Using this information, we will design prototypes for tools to assist growers in addressing the most commonly faced challenges.

Study Design

Who is eligible to participate?

  • Farmers who can meet researchers at their farm or can attend a video-based interview (computer with an internet connection).
  • Farmers who can travel to a workshop site to attend participatory design workshops.
  • Farmers growing cucumber, melon, pepper, or tomato.
  • Farmers located in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
  • Farmers with farms categorized as small or medium by the USDA’s definition.
  • Farming must be the primary source of income for their owners and operators.
  • Farmers who rely on annual fruit or vegetable produce for a minimum of 20% of their farm’s yearly revenue.

Decision Mapping Interviews

A 2-hour exercise to map the major decisions made during annual fruit or vegetable production. Participants will walk the interviewer through the decisions made while planning, planting, managing, and harvesting horticultural crops on their farm. They will also identify the challenges they face at each decision point, as well as the information they use to navigate these challenges. In addition, participants will discuss the various types of agricultural technologies they use and the requirements for a digital tool (such as computer software or smartphone application) to meet their needs.

Interviews may be conducted either online or in person, depending on the participant’s preferences and availability.

Interview Structure:

  1. Farm background and historical crop production
  2. Walkthrough of a typical agricultural year
  3. Decision mapping
  4. Identification of specific challenges
  5. Discussion of agricultural technologies and requirements

Participatory Design Workshops

A 3 hour workshop held to inform the design of digital tool prototypes. Using the information gleaned from the decision mapping interviews, participants will help design digital tools to help solve the production challenges they face. Each workshop will have ten participants and will focus on a single tool design. During the workshop, participants will complete a series of activities to provide input on the design of the digital tool. 

Exercises will be conducted in person, at Purdue University’s West Lafayette Campus.

Workshop Structure:

  1. Participant and workshop introductions
  2. Design activities
  3. Group discussion

Feedback Workshops

A 1.5-hour workshop held to revise and refine the digital tools. Participants will test the fully-built tools under several scenarios and provide feedback on their usefulness and usability. Each workshop will have ten participants and will focus on a single tool design.

Exercises will be conducted in person, at Purdue University’s West Lafayette Campus.

Workshop Structure:

  1. Participant and workshop introductions
  2. Feedback activities
  3. Group discussion

Help us Reach Out!

Research Team

Who can I contact if I have questions about the study?

If you have questions, comments or concerns about this research project, you can talk to one of the researchers.  Please contact:

Point of Contact:
Steven Doyle
doyle110@purdue.edu

Primary Investigator:
Dr. Ankita Raturi
(714) 675-0047
ankita@purdue.edu