Farmer Focus: Social media is a farming game changer

Social media is changing the way I do business – I know this because someone on Twitter told me.

I wonder if field days and machinery salespeople are still needed. Or will the machinery decisions of the future be made through social media only?

I gave up ringing salesmen about two years ago after I realised that spending an hour on the web meant I knew more about the product than they did. 

It is the same story with parts. These days, if I need a part I go online, find the part and then ring with a part number.

Most dealers have little or no parts in stock anymore and most parts managers wouldn’t recognise what the machine looks like.

Dealers have become focused on sales, but once the machine is out the door, you are on your own. Thanks to social media, innovation with machinery and agronomy is now immediate, global and free.

See also: Read more from our Farmer Focus writers

For example, I had trouble with seed distribution across my airseeder last year and none of the local dealer and manufacturer suggestions worked.

After joining a conversation on Twitter, I worked out that it was back pressure causing the problem. An agronomist from Canada recommended I try an innovation from Victoria, Australia, that he had seen someone talk about online.

This product was then endorsed by someone in South Australia who was using one, having seen the Twitter stream. I then ordered the product online, it worked great and fixed the problem.

Social media has broken down the agricultural hierarchy. Big companies no longer control the information flow and if they try to push questionable products or results, social media users bring them down.

Trial data is matched with real farmers’ in-field results. Tillage techniques and machine set-ups are discussed endlessly and any machine faults or lack of response from manufacturers are broadcast for all to see.

Social media is fast becoming one of agriculture’s most important tools and a real challenge to a traditionally conservative industry.

As farmers are becoming fewer in number, it is importantly making global agriculture a smaller place.

Rob Warburton farms 3,000ha with his wife Jen and two daughters in Kojonup, south of Perth, in Western Australia. Cropping includes wheat, barley and oilseed rape. Wildflower seed is grown for retail. Merino sheep are reared for wool and meat.


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