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Farmer-centred design: An affordances-based framework for identifying processes that facilitate farmers as co-designers in addressing complex agricultural challenges
Agricultural Systems  (IF5.37),  Pub Date : 2021-11-12, DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2021.103314
C.R. Eastwood, F.J. Turner, A.J. Romera


Structured co-design processes are increasingly used for agricultural system redesign challenges. Many co-design processes were created in non-agricultural contexts, therefore there has been limited analysis of how they are best applied when involving farmers in co-design.


The aims of this paper are to describe the application and affordances of co-design processes in a context of complex agricultural problems, and to build understanding on the use of such approaches with farmer stakeholders.


We examine co-design affordances through two case studies: using Reflexive Interactive Design for future farm system redesign, and Design Thinking for farming workplace redesign. Data collection involved surveys and phone interviews of co-design participants, notes from project team observations and reflections, and direct farmer participant feedback. We critically evaluated the co-design processes using an affordances-based analytical framework.


Co-design methods can enable researchers to engage with farmers and other agricultural stakeholders to address major agricultural redesign challenges. However, farmers are not always comfortable with highly analytical methods used in some co-design processes. Through the two case studies analysed in this paper, we propose the concept of farmer-centred design, where effective inclusion of farmers in design processes is achieved by selecting the co-design approaches used based on the affordances they provide farmer participants. Processes based on structural affordances (harnessing and aggregating) may frustrate farmer co-designers, while second-order functional affordances, such as exploration, visioning, and extending, can provide better alignment with farmer cognitive processes.


This novel study describes the affordances of co-design tools and proposes an adapted framework for analysing affordances. The framework will benefit researchers when determining the co-design approach that matches their redesign challenge.