Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 119–129 | Cite as

Innovative design for agriculture in the move towards sustainability: scientific challenges

  • Lorène ProstEmail author
  • Elsa T. A. Berthet
  • Marianne Cerf
  • Marie-Hélène Jeuffroy
  • Julie Labatut
  • Jean-Marc Meynard
Original Paper


Agriculture is facing increasing innovation challenges to meet current societal expectations, yet very few design science studies are devoted to it. This paper highlights some of the particularities of the objects, reasoning and organization of design in agriculture that may open fruitful scientific dialogue between design scientists and agricultural scientists. We first provide an overview of the broad range of objects that are designed in agriculture and point out their specific characteristics with regard to design. We then identify some particular challenges of design activities in agriculture and review how they have been addressed up to now. Finally, we discuss how design challenges and characteristics in agriculture can contribute to current debate in the field of design science. We propose two main lines of enquiry and debate: enhancing the links between design reasoning and organization and further conceptualizing the status of use situations in design to deal with uncertainties and complexity in design processes.


Agriculture Farming systems design Innovative design Sustainability Design studies Design theory 



We thank our two research divisions at INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) for their support to the research on design in agriculture: the Science for Action and Development (SAD) division and the Environment and Agronomy (EA) division. This work was realized on the initiative of the newly born INRA institute for design in agrifood systems. We thank Liz Libbrecht for language editing the English version of this paper and are deeply grateful to the three anonymous reviewers for their comments that were of great help for improving this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UMR LISISINRA, CNRS, ESIEE Paris, UPEM, Université Paris-EstMarne-La-ValléeFrance
  2. 2.UMR SADAPTINRA, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-SaclayThiverval-GrignonFrance
  3. 3.UMR Agronomie INRA, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-SaclayThiverval-GrignonFrance
  4. 4.UMR AGIRINRA, Université de Toulouse, INPT ENSATCastanet-TolosanFrance
  5. 5.MINES ParisTech, Centre de Gestion ScientifiquePSL Research UniversityParisFrance
  6. 6.Department of Natural Resource SciencesMcGill UniversitySte-Anne-de-BellevueCanada

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