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Accepted Paper:

Digitally-assisted plant assessments - following growers' sustainable decisions  
Mylène Tanferri (ETHZ)

Short abstract:

This paper explores growers' sensory assessments using digital sensors, considering implications for agricultural sustainability. It aims to understand how these technologies may shape decision-making regarding fertilizers, pesticides, and sustainability practices in general, from the ground up.

Long abstract:

This paper delves into the sensory assessments conducted by growers in agriculture (Kasic, 2022 ; Javelle, 2023) to observe their adoption of digital sensors in their embodied assessments activities. Growers develop experiential knowledge and experiments in their fields (Pitt, 2021 ; Hansson, 2019 ; Krzywoszynska 2016), and if this practical knowledge is often devalued, the development and use of digital tools that aim to enhance their abilities should be concerned with their tacit and embodied expertise. Grounded in preliminary ethnographic investigations conducted among Swiss farmers utilizing sensors within commercial greenhouses, this study draws upon insights from biosensors studies (Nafus, 2013), literature focused on digitally equiped sensory diagnosis in medical settings (Maslen, 2017 ; Grosjean, 2010), and more broadly the work on professional vision (Grasseni, 2022 ; Tomas et al. 2020 ; Goodwin 1994), to explore the intricate process through which these digital innovations become integrated into the daily routines and decision-making practices of growers. To do so, I will examine the extent to which digital sensors complement, supplement, or potentially replace traditional sensory assessments performed by growers, to investigate how these technologies may participate in human (sensory and experiential) knowledge about industrially cultivated plants.

By closely examining the practical implications of incorporating digital sensors into growers' routines, this proposal endeavors to shed light on agricultural sustainability practices. In particular, I will focus on the integration of digital sensors into growers' decision-making processes based on plant assessments concerning the application of fertilizers, pesticides, and other sustainability-oriented decisions such as water and energy consumption, avoiding a specific definition of sustainability to follow practices from the ground up. By describing the intricate details of plant assessments and subsequent decisions made by growers, I seek to unravel the complexities of sensor usage in real-world agricultural settings. Through this nuanced exploration, I aim to contribute insights into the evolving dynamics between traditional sensory assessments and emerging digital technologies in contemporary agricultural practices.

Traditional Open Panel P210
Digital technologies in food and agriculture: merging STS with Critical Agrifood Studies
  Session 3 Tuesday 16 July, 2024, -