In the last months, Mark de Langen did his internship at Agri Information Partners. Mark studied Biosystems Engineering at Wageningen University. The internship was the last part of his study. A summary of my internship is provided below.
Nowadays, the agricultural sector is very innovative; this innovation includes the increasing usage of Information Systems (IS). In the plant breeding sector, innovation means more than developing new cultivars; it also includes innovation in marketing, sales, production, and organization (Liu, Jongsma, Huang, Dons, & Omta, 2015). Agri Information Partners aims to change the way plant information is displayed at plots where plant varieties are placed in (e.g., in the greenhouse or exhibition) using information presentation devices. Such devices, like displays, allow information to be updated remotely and easily. This way, plant information is always up to date and easily accessible by everyone at the location.
The first part of this internship’s objective was to understand who the stakeholders are and what their requirements are. The next part is the automation of the displaying of plant information at plots. This automation includes identification, capturing, retrieving, and displaying data. Once implemented, the objective was to identify and describe other benefits of the placed information presentation devices in the plant breeder’s advantage. Additionally, a use case relating to the required investment and benefits was addressed.
To understand the current information presentation system, get to know the job of business consultancy within AIP, acquire information for the internship, and develop an IT solution, three approaches were applied:
- Visits and interviews
- IT system design and proof of concept development
- Business case
The system design was performed using both the rational unified process (RUP) and some artifacts of Cross’ Engineering Design method (ED).
At the beginning of the internship and the first phase of RUP, two main cases were selected to represent the plant breeder requirements. An exhibition case and a greenhouse work case. Company visits were used to get an impression of both cases in real-life. During these visits, the plant breeders were interviewed using a semi-structured interview to identify their requirements and wishes for future system use cases. During the elaboration phase, use cases were constructed for the system, and the requirement were evaluated. The selected system and its working was presented using a deployment diagram, and sequence diagrams presenting the system during the construction phase. The design process was concluded by a business case and elaborated future use cases.
A data presentation system tailored to the plant breeding sector as presented within this internship is a system with big potential and has proven to work in supermarkets. Interest on plant breeder side is present, and economically there is a small return on investment when taking working hours saved and the investment into account. However, the biggest system benefits are a lower margin of error in the information supplied and the ability to quickly change the presented data.
Recommendations for this study are to test display durability, usage in greenhouse circumstances, and the creating of a proof of concept for both the greenhouse and marketing case.
I can reflect on a very nice internship, where I have had great support from my supervisor Wouter. Other colleagues were very supportive as well and provided good ideas regarding additional system functionalities and system architecture. Besides the internship assignment, I have gotten a good impression of the tasks of the business consultants at Agri Information Partners and the company functioning. I am glad it was possible to join their team as a business consultant during the second half of my internship, and am happy I can stay working here in the future.