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Assessment of Digital Capacity, Needs and Access Barriers Among Crop, Dairy and Livestock Producers

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2018 ASABE Annual International Meeting  1801320.(doi:10.13031/aim.201801320)
Authors:   John M Shutske, David Trechter, Brian D Luck, Jessica L Drewry, Matthew J DeWitte, Lynn Pitman, Mary Kluz
Keywords:   digital, technology, internet, smartphone, broadband, access, barriers, applications, farm, agriculture, dairy, livestock, crop, grain, sensors, data, apps, mobile, computers.

Abstract. A comprehensive survey was developed and mailed to 3,000 Wisconsin dairy (1,000), livestock (500) and crop (1,500) producers in early 2018. The survey was designed to evaluate internet and other digital technology uses; digital technology applications being deployed on farms; internet and mobile service satisfaction; barriers to technology adoption; and, use differences across different groups based on demographic factors that included farm income, farm size, age, education level and gender. After eliminating undelivered/returned mailings, the survey had a 46% response rate. Internet access and use levels were strongly and positively associated with gender (women), farm income, farm size (acres and head of livestock) and education level. Older respondents were less likely to access the internet. For both mobile and home/office computer access, cost was an area with higher dissatisfaction along with slow download speed, particularly during heavy use periods. Generally, satisfaction levels were higher for mobile access as compared to home/office access. Weather and market information were categories of information most often accessed; while farm program and educational information were the categories least accessed. The most significant barriers to adoption of digital technology on respondents‘ farms included data privacy concerns, software compatibility and system interoperability, and understanding how to use and derive value from acquired data. The survey examined areas of digital application adoption including finance and marketing tools and apps, precision planting and harvesting, sensor applications (soil, livestock, structures/environment), and robotic milking equipment.

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