Web use grows as farmers embrace internet information

Farmers are making greater use of the internet to run their farms, particularly via smartphones and tablets, but farming magazines are still the most popular source of farming news and advice, according to the industry’s biggest independent study of how farmers get information.

The Agridata study, published this week, found 85% of British farms now have internet access and nearly 40% use it daily for farm business.

Accessing weather updates, technical and product information and market prices are the most common online activities, while education and training is the fastest growing. More than one-fifth of farms have bought or sold something for the business online.

See also: 11 must-have apps for livestock farmers

However, farming magazines are still the most widely used information source, with 88% of farmers using them regularly, followed by farm advisers (60%), agricultural shows (57%) and agricultural websites (45%).

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Farmers rated Farmers Weekly and its website fwi.co.uk as the most-valued and most-used industry magazine and website.

The survey said 57% of farmers read Farmers Weekly regularly, 23% more than the number-two title. When asked which magazine they considered the most valuable, nearly half (46%) chose Farmers Weekly, double the number for any other title.

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Fwi.co.uk is used by 55% of all farmers, more than twice as many as any other commercial farming site. It is also rated the most valuable by eight times as many farmers as any other website.

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The dominance of Farmers Weekly and Fwi.co.uk is even more pronounced for larger farms (more than 200ha).

Among the specialist arable farming magazines, Crops is the most read, while Dairy Farmer and British Dairying are neck-and-neck in the specialist dairy magazine market, both read by about 70% of dairy farmers.

The Agridata study, conducted by JT Research, is based on in-depth interviews with nearly 500 British farmers, sourced from independent data holders such as Dun & Bradstreet and Companies House.