Exploring the role of smartphone technology for citizen science in agriculture

Katharina Dehnen-Schmutz, G.L. Foster, L. Owen, S. Persello

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    Citizen science is the involvement of citizens, such as farmers, in the research process. Citizen science has become increasingly popular recently, supported by the proliferation of mobile communication technologies such as smartphones. However, citizen science methodologies have not yet been widely adopted in agricultural research. Here, we conducted an online survey with 57 British and French farmers in 2014. We investigated (1) farmer ownership and use of smartphone technologies, (2) farmer use of farm-specific management apps, and (3) farmer interest and willingness to participate in agricultural citizen science projects. Our results show that 89 % respondents owned a smartphone, 84 % used it for farm management, and 72 % used it on a daily basis. Fifty-nine percent engaged with farm-specific apps, using on average four apps. Ninety-three percent respondents agreed that citizen science was a useful methodology for data collection, 93 % for real-time monitoring, 83 % for identification of research questions, 72 % for experimental work, and 72 % for wildlife recording. Farmers also showed strong interest to participate in citizen science projects, often willing to commit substantial amounts of time. For example, 54 % of British respondents were willing to participate in farmland wildlife recording once a week or monthly. Although financial support was not always regarded as necessary, experimental work was the most likely activity for which respondents thought financial support would be essential. Overall, this is the first study to quantify and explore farmers’ use of smartphones for farm management, and document strong support for farm-based citizen science projects.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number25
    JournalAgronomy for Sustainable Development
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2016

    Bibliographical note

    The published PDF is available as an open access article by Springer at: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13593-016-0359-9
    This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative
    Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://
    creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use,
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    credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the
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    • Citizen science
    • Smartphones
    • Farm management applications
    • Britain
    • France
    • Participatory research


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