Farmers 'happier to steer clear of web-based admin'
DCU study finds alarmingly low levels of online uptake among sector as time and knowledge constraints head grower worries
Most farmers would prefer to delegate responsibility for their farming administration to an agent rather than use online services themselves, a Dublin City University study of information technology use among farmers has found.
The availability of agents to do online administration was one of 12 key factors that influenced farmers' perceptions of online farming services.
Dr Regina Connolly, from Dublin City University (DCU), found that nearly 70pc of farmers interviewed for the study reported low confidence in their ability to accurately complete farm administration tasks online because of time, seasonality of applications and lack of online practice.
Farmers regarded this in the same way that people in the wider community regard employing accountants for financial management, the report found.
The main issues influencing information technology use that emerged from a series of interviews and focus groups were the farmers' exposure to technology, broadband availability, whether he/she had time to learn how to use farming online services and farming software, the seasonality of cattle registration, and the importance of accuracy when submitting applications for schemes.
Older farmers tended to judge the usefulness of online farming services and farming software with their ease of access to, and experience of, using paper-based services.
Generally speaking, the farmer's exposure to, and experience of, using technology influenced how much he/she expected from farm software and online services websites, and how much work he/she thought it would entail.
There was also a link between exposure and training in the use of the technology and the trust that the farmer had in transmitting personal information by computer technology.