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Abstract, Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 2019

The triple-bottom-line approach to sustainability in agriculture requires multi- and inter-disciplinary expertise and remains a major design and implementation challenge. Tools are needed to link extension agents, development workers, farmers, and other agriculture decision-makers to information related to practices that improve sustainability across agricultural landscapes. The digital age has brought many new cloud-based and mobile device–accessible software applications (apps) targeted at farmers and others in the agriculture sector; however, the effectiveness of these tools for advancing sustainability goals is unknown. Here, we review apps for agriculture in order to identify gaps in information provisioning and sharing for tools that connect decision-makers to knowledge in support of sustainable agricultural landscapes. The major findings are (1) Agricultural apps can be categorized as supporting regulatory compliance, equipment optimization, farming simulator games, information management, agronomic reference information, product tracking, pest identification, emissions accounting, or benchmarks for marketing claims. (2) Many apps are developed to link specific products for single solutions, such as GPS-guided crop implementation or sensors within Internet-of-things connectivity. (3) While pilots, prototypes, and case studies are available in both Apple and Android digital markets, public mobile apps to improve multidirectional agriculture knowledge exchange are limited and poorly documented. (4) There remains a need for apps emphasizing knowledge exchange and resource discovery, rather than simply information delivery, to help farmers identify evidence-based practices that improve indicators of sustainability. (5) Development of a digital decision support tool requires early and ongoing interactions with targeted end users to clarify app performance objectives and social networking preferences, ensure reliability of scientific input and business management plans, and optimize the user experience.