Counting carbon emissions in Asia

Introducing the Grow Asia Counter

Camellia Williams
Nov 16, 2016 · 3 min read

Agricultural commodity producers in five Southeast Asian countries can now quickly and easily estimate the impact of their agricultural activities on greenhouse gas emissions. Balancing scientific rigour with ease-of-use, the Grow Asia Counter offers people a new way of getting the information they need to improve the sustainability of their farming practices.

Grow Asia Counter is new way to explore the impact of different agricultural management practices

Agriculture is one of the largest global sources of greenhouse gas emissions: at least 20% according to IPCC reports. From fossil fuel use to fertiliser use and biomass burning, the way the land is managed can affect the scale of the impact. As well as helping quantify the problem, producers need help finding the right set of actions that can reduce emissions per yield.

Enter Grow Asia: a multi-stakeholder partnership platform that catalyzes action on inclusive and sustainable agricultural development in Southeast Asia. They sought the support of the international development NGO Winrock International to develop a web-based tool that would allow users to estimate the greenhouse gas impacts of key crops and management practices in Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

We worked with Winrock International to build the Grow Asia Counter. Taking their scientific expertise and our skills in design and software development, we developed a new way for Grow Asia partners to estimate and understand their contributions to climate change. Our approach was to design a minimal, intuitive, and attractive interface.

From the outset, it’s clear that this is not your typical bureaucratic form-filling wormhole. Far from it. Anyone can use the Grow Asia Counter: there’s no need to log in or create an account, and you don’t need to be an expert to get meaningful results within minutes. Step-by-step, you’re taken through a series of questions about your agricultural practices — for example, what you grow, what fertilisers are used, and how much fuel is used. At the end, you’re presented with an estimate of current emissions and an opportunity to see how alternative practices compare.

The report can be easily shared and printed

To make each step as intuitive as possible, we opted to use a minimal form interface and natural language forms. The ultimate benefit of this is that it speeds up the form-filling process. Between the easy-to-use interface and the fact that each question is based on the previous response, you’ll feel like the Counter is working with you every step of the way.

Another design touch we added to improve the user experience was to group the questions in colour blocks. By doing this we added a subtle progress bar that lets people know how close they are to seeing their results. It’s the little things like this which combine to create a much more compelling experience for the user.

Natural language forms and colour blocking make the tool more intuitive to use

Like Grow Asia and Winrock International, we want to help producers grow crops more sustainably. By giving these producers the information they need in a way that’s personal and easy-to-use, we’re putting the power to change the future in their hands. We can’t wait to see what people do with the Grow Asia Counter. Try it out for yourself and see how easy it is to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with growing crops.

Camellia Williams

Written by

Lead Writer at Vizzuality.

Vizzuality Blog

Posts on data design, user research, open data, and software development. We create tools and applications with a lasting benefit to society and the environment.

Camellia Williams

Written by

Lead Writer at Vizzuality.

Vizzuality Blog

Posts on data design, user research, open data, and software development. We create tools and applications with a lasting benefit to society and the environment.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store