NEARLY TWO thirds of farmers own a computer but only half of them use it for the farm business.

A DEFRA survey carried out in Dec 2003 suggests that 64% of producers have access to a computer but just 33% use it on the farm.

But there are big variations depending on farm size and type. At least 85% of very large farms have a computer compared with just 20% of very small farms.

Dairy, cereal and general cropping farmers are also more likely to own or have access to a machine than beef and sheep producers.

Only 25% of lowland cattle and sheep farmers and 30% of upland livestock farmers have a computer on the farm.

Although the government is encouraging farmers to use a computer to complete government forms, the survey indicates that it might face some resistance.

Over half of farmers said they are not interested in buying a computer because of a lack of interest or because they do not think that it is needed to help run their business.

A lack of computing skills was also put forward by 39% of respondents as a factor. The issue of cost was put forward by just 20% of farmers.