Overview
Research
Requirements
Exploration
Interface
Testing

N-Drip connect

Irrigation & fertilization planner for farmers

Research
Specification
UI

Overview

About N-Drip connect

N-Drip Connect is a management tool for farmers that generates actionable insights regarding optimal irrigation and fertilization, based on real-time data taken from the root zone - resulting in higher yields and increased savings of water and energy.

The project

This project is an addition to the previously designed dashboard and mobile app. I have worked as a sole designer along with Asaf Shveki as VP Software, Shirel Shemesh as Lead Developer, and a team of agronomists.

Goal

Design an interface that enables managers of multiple farming units to define, distribute and monitor irrigation and fertilization events on a weekly basis.

REsearch

user interviews

N-Drip Connect is a management tool for farmers that generates actionable insights regarding optimal irrigation and fertilization, based on real-time data taken from the root zone - resulting in higher yields and increased savings of water and energy.

We started the project by interviewing existing clients and going out to the field to experience the manager's job first hand. My goal was to understand their current methods and tools for creating a plan, what alternatives do they have, what drives their decisions and to identify pain points in the process.

A farming manager, the N-Drip Connect development team and myself standing in a field next to a tractor

Insights

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The current process is done on a weekly basis in an excel sheet. This takes about 10% of the managers time and they need to be very focused while working on it.

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Although several fields can be growing the same crop next to each other, the manager will have to define a specific plan to each field due to differences in the soil, topography and pesticide events.

Irrigation events will sometimes be defined to a specific hour of the day, depending on the type and growing phase of the crop.

Today the managers have no way to monitor the actual execution of the plan according to what they defined.

Farmers are sometimes constrained in the amount of water they can irrigate (for example on a draught year).

Requirements

Based on the insights from the interviews we moved on to define the following requirements:

Allow the users to create weekly irrigation and fertilization orders for their entire distribution fields in one place.

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Suggest irrigation recommendations based on sophisticated analysis for each field and alert the users if the order they are creating does not meet the field’s constraints.

Present the users an aggregate view of the amount of water and fertilization they have used during this week and entire growing season.

Allow the manager a view of the planned orders vs the actual execution.

Orders should have a prominent place in the individual farmers dashboard.

Exploration

Wireframes

The first draft was focused on maximizing the planning and season overview of a single field. Though relatively easy to understand, it would require jumping back and forth between fields.

Wireframe

In the second version we also added the fertilization orders to the planner (toggle switch on the top left). This design didn’t add a lot of value beyond a stylized table.

Mockup

Inspiration

Since the whole concept of the planner revolves around a weekly timeline we decided to base it around the mental model of a calendar, in which events can be crossed days and have visual cues to their duration.

Google calendar

Mockups

Based on the mental model of a calendar it was now possible to view and edit several fields at once. This version added the maintenance instructions (HPO, HCl) to the view as well.

Mockup

A more advanced version also gave indication to irrigation events in the bottom of each field, while the “Auto fill” button (magic wand) created a plan based on N-Drip’s recommendations.

Mockup

Interface

The final interface contains a list of all the fields in the manager's responsibility. Each field is a table split to two: the left and large side is the planner while the right side displays the total accumulated irrigation and fertilization amounts that have been planned and used in the field.

Every table is divided into three rows:

  1. Notes
  2. Fertilization
  3. Irrigation

The fertilization and irrigation rows are divided to planned and actual used, this makes it easy to monitor the execution of the plan on a daily time frame.

As a default each field is pre-populated by N-Drip’s recommendations for the entire growing season that are updated on the go. The manager can choose to edit the recommendation or send it as it is.

The user can edit a recommendation by clicking on it, or add a new one by clicking on the empty space in the row.

The “weeks” screen allows the manager to get an overall view for the entire season.

Events in close proximity are aggregated into one item.

Testing

We set up a high fidelity mockup and did two user testing with these goals to be achieved:

Test 1 - Manager

  • Edit an existing item.
  • Create and delete a new item.
  • Recognise the amount of actual vs planned irrigation or fertilization for a single field on a weekly time frame.
  • Recognise the amount of actual vs planned irrigation or fertilization for a single field for the entire season.

Test 2 - Farmer

  • Recognise the next action and understand its instructions.
  • Report a new action.

Results

The overall results for the planner testing were positive. Most users were able to complete their tasks with little to no difficulties. Managers found the planner helpful and a big step up compared to their previous way of working, while farmers found it was easy to understand and to use.