Grasping at digitalisation: turning imagination into fact in the sugarcane farming community

Fielke, Simon J., Taylor, Bruce M., Jakku, Emma, Mooij, Martijn, Stitzlein, Cara, Fleming, Aysha, Thorburn, Peter J., Webster, Anthony J., Davis, Aaron, and Vilas, Maria P. (2021) Grasping at digitalisation: turning imagination into fact in the sugarcane farming community. Sustainability Science, 16. pp. 677-690.

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Nutrient runoff from catchments that drain into the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is a significant source of stress for this World Heritage Area. An alliance of collaborative on-ground water quality monitoring (Project 25) and technologically driven digital application development (Digiscape GBR) projects were formulated to provide data that highlighted the contribution of a network of Australian sugar cane farmers, amongst other sources, to nutrient runoff. This environmental data and subsequent information were extended to the farming community through scientist-led feedback sessions and the development of specialised digital technology (1622 (TM) WQ) that help build an understanding of the nutrient movements, in this case nitrogen, such that farmers might think about and eventually act to alter their fertilizer application practices. This paper reflects on a socio-environmental sustainability challenge that emerged during this case study, by utilising the nascent concept of digi-grasping. We highlight the importance of the entire agricultural knowledge and advice network being part of an innovation journey to increase the utility of digital agricultural technologies developed to increase overall sustainability. We develop the digi-MAST analytical framework, which explores modes of being and doing in the digital world, ranging from 'the everyday mystery of the digital world (M)', through digital 'awareness (A)', digitally 'sparked' being/s (S), and finally the ability of individuals and/or groups to 'transform (T)' utilising digital technologies and human imaginations. Our digi-MAST framework allows us to compare agricultural actors, in this case, to understand present modes of digi-grasping to help determine the resources and actions likely to be required to achieve impact from the development of various forms of digital technological research outputs.

Item ID: 66054
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1862-4057
Keywords: Digital technology, Social science, User experience, Responsible innovation, Agriculture
Copyright Information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2021 17:59
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3002 Agriculture, land and farm management > 300210 Sustainable agricultural development @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 22 INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES > 2299 Other information and communication services > 229999 Other information and communication services not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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