Exploring the online regulation information needs of NZ farmers and growers
Ground Rules -2019
New Zealand farmers and growers face increasing compliance demands from regional and central government, and many face confusion around their minimum regulatory requirements. There was a growing need to give clarity to farmers and growers on these requirements, with the aim of increasing knowledge and ease of compliance.
Integrated Farm Planning, a multi-disciplinary, cross-sector team within the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), support farmers and growers to transition to more productive and sustainable land uses. Part of this initiative involved developing a Plain English tool which gathers together regulatory requirements in one place for farmers and growers, industry, and rural professionals.
Gathering user research data was a vital part of developing the tool in order to understand its usefulness, explore information-seeking behaviours and needs, and ultimately to build a tool that truly helps farmers and growers to comply.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) commissioned ThinkPlace to undertake a series of interviews and prototype testing sessions to provide this understanding and guide further developments. In August 2019, ThinkPlace undertook 12 qualitative video interviews with various farmers, growers, and rural professionals, to better understand farmers’ and growers’ current regulatory information needs.
The interviews also included a user testing element to explore in-situ the prototype, a method ThinkPlace holds strong expertise in. The user testing allowed ThinkPlace to demonstrate to MPI how people really interacted with the tool, and what barriers arose to their full engagement and potential future use.
The final report combined behavioural insights around farmers information-seeking habits, as well as practical, solutions-focused opportunities for improving the usability and engagement with the tool. We used ThinkPlace’s Innovation Horizon™ to map the opportunities, ranging from immediate changes to longer-term shifts in the system. These opportunities included ways in which MPI could use the tool's platform to increase not just compliance, but best practice in the agriculture industry.
Many of the participants we spoke with were well connected within the industry, and had various roles. For example, farming and also holding positions on boards or other organisations, which meant regulations were heard through word of mouth. This visual demonstrates the range of people we spoke with, along with some of their experiences. The quotes here are created by ThinkPlace to bring to life some of the information told to us.
By identifying ways to build best practice in the agriculture industry, we delivered added value to the client by moving the conversation beyond the immediate issue. This research also contributed to a vital shift in the way information is provided to farmers and growers, a change that is vital as technology develops and people demand clearer, more user-friendly information sources.