Two recent articles in the farm press validate how far farm management technology has come, yet how far it has yet to progress to make a serious business impact.
First in the Successful Farming story, "Farm computer use evolving,: writer Laurie Bedford comments, "In an age when a computer is as common as a car, a recent USDA report reveals that 37% of farms still don’t have a computer. Even if a farm does have a computer, 63% do not use it for farm business, and 38% are not yet connected to the Internet."
While you can slice and dice the USDA study by general demographics ("who" and "where") its parameters are way too broad (i.e. "< and > $250,000 in sales" and "used for farm business") to drill into the "what" and "how" of what's actually going on in the farm office. (Maybe that's the purview of the NSA, not the USDA.) However, it's noteworthy that while farm computer ownership has grown by 7% from 2009 to 2012 (61-68%), using computers for farm business has grown at only 4% (36-40%).
The take home here is that 1) less than 3 our of 5 farmers own computers, 2) only 2 in 5 of these farmers claim to use their computers for business purposes and 3) the business purposes adoption rate is growing at barely half the speed of general computer adoption. So looking at the big picture, only 27.2% of farmers use a computer for business purposes and that adoption rate is growing at 2% per year.
But if the Farm Journal Top Producer article, "Refine Your Records," is any indication of what "farm business use" means agriculture has a long, long, long way to go. This article could have been written 10-15 years ago and is really directed to the "Mediocre Producer."
What do you think?