What’s this E-Farming?Wednesday, Jul 2, 2003
Yesterdays report that farmers are slow to find profit from using computers in agriculture is confirming a growing awareness that the new technology may be being promoted on an illusion of benefit that is a long way ahead of the real experience of farmer users. .
Recent personal experience suggests that the promise of on farm computing has been far greater than the reality delivered this far. So much, of the media's excitement about e-farming and computing in general has been the focus on the, means of delivery as being the success rather than for much more difficult subject - what benefit is being delivered?
While many farmers claim to have access to a computer few use one for business and even fewer connect to the Internet. It appears that general farmer computer literacy has not yet reached a standard were they feel it is worthwhile, to spend time in front of a screen.
Computing and high-speed Internet connections appear to be vehicles looking for a purpose at this stage of their development. But even more importantly farmers appear to find that it is a mixture of finding time to learn, time to use, time to understand and time to apply being the real barrier to there use on most farms.
It could be that the technology is just reaching speeds and reliability that will match an impatient farmer’s expectation. However the provision of a high-speed connection and the purchase of a more powerful machine may still not overcome the suspicion and prejudice that has been generated in the minds of many farmers as a result of poor service and alarmist propaganda over the dangers and security risks inherent in computing and Internet use.
Just as it has required a major effort create a high-speed network for farmers, similar levels of effort will be needed to provide useful services and relevant training delivering a tangible on farm benefit to encourage more than a few early adopters see e-farming as a useful tool.
The investors in the e-farming delivery infrastructure won’t have completed their job when the last connection is made.