3 November 2000



The internet offers farmers powerful management tools which can help businesses run more efficiently and effectively, says Bidwells Robert Cumine.

Using the internet to access worldwide information, make efficient communications and trade via e-commerce will all be familiar operations for farmers within the next 2-3 years, he forecasts.

To make the best decisions in todays climate farmers need access to the best information. The Internet allows 24 hour, 7 days a week access to such information.

Weather forecasts, commodity prices, machinery reviews/specifications, agronomic information and disease reports are all available. Budgeting and area aid information, seed rate or gross margin calculators also provide useful tools.

Communication via the internet is both efficient and secure. "Messages, stored until you log on, can be accessed and replied to at your convenience."

Technical queries can be blind copied to several professionals.

"IACS applications trialled online this year will shortly become the norm, allowing computerised field records to be converted electronically.

"E-commerce permits goods and services to be bought and sold from the farm office, offering price transparency with no personal or local obligation, or hard sell.

"Due to the remote location of many farm businesses e-trading is likely to offer significant time and cost savings. For those considering diversification it also allows a global shop window for products.

"Although the internet will not be without problems and potential dangers, it does offer farmers an effective management tool for the cost of a local phone call," concludes Mr Cumine.