Farmers Internet Usage Shows 30% Increase
New research commissioned by multi-channel rural supplies business RD1.COM suggests internet use by farmers is on the rise, and has outstripped average use throughout New Zealand.
The research, recently conducted on behalf of RD1.COM, by leading research firm Research Solutions, shows that 60% of farmers surveyed have Internet access at home, compared to a national average of 33%. The research used a nationwide telephone survey of 500 farmers across dairy, beef and sheep farms.
The study confirms earlier RD1 research showing that rural women are leading the way with usage at 62%, compared to 59% for men.
These usage levels show a growth of 30 % compared to a similar sized national survey undertaken one year ago.
Dairy farmers are using the internet more than other farmers (at almost 64% vs 53%), and the highest usage was among farmers aged 45-54 years at 75%, rather than in younger age groups.
Of farmers using the internet, 52 % use it as a business tool primarily for farming information, to monitor milk production or other data, conduct research, online banking and buy supplies.
Time spent online is also devoted to keeping in touch with email, general education and use by children.
This research indicates that farmers that are already high achievers also appreciate the importance of the internet to their business, with those farmers reporting they have a high turnover being more connected (70%) than their smaller counterparts (45%).
This research also shows that rural portals RD1.COM and Fencepost.com have pulled ahead of the field in terms of online services. Both sites had around 66% of awareness among all farmers, well ahead of their nearest rivals. (RD1.COM had 67% awareness and Fencepost, 65%.)
RD1.COM and Fencepost also rated the most widely used rural websites. RD1.COM is used by 32% of Internet-connected farmers and Fencepost, by 28%.
RD1.COM chief executive Neal Murphy said the results were gratifying for the prospect of a merged business with Fencepost.com, as both were leading the way when it came to online services.
He said the strength of both brands, with complementary strengths, meant it would be a shame to lose either.
“Some hard thinking will need to be done,” he said.
Mr Murphy said that RD1.COM’s registered users had almost reached 18,000 in just four months after its national launch. This was expected to continue to grow with major developments of the site due for release shortly.
The company had more than 7,000 items available in its online store and was successfully selling everything from traditional farm supplies to cars and other household goods online.
“We’re delighted at the progress,” he said. “The research has not only confirmed how far we’ve come, but also identified very clear opportunities to win more market share right across the rural supplies and services market – and that online services have significant potential.”