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Source: Connectiv news release

Farmers and ranchers are increasingly turning to digital platforms to access information related to their agricultural practices, a trend that is likely to grow over the next few years. This insight comes as part of the 2016 Agricultural Media Channel Study, released today by Connectiv, The Business Information Association, a division of the Software and Information Industry Association the principal association representing the software and digital content industries.

To explain and analyze the results, Connectiv and SIIA will host a free webinar this Thursday, June 16th at 2:00 pm ET. More details are available here and below.

The continued upward trend in digital media use reflects an important change in one of the nation's largest and most traditional industries. While print and other traditional information sources continue to be the most popular information resource for farmers and ranchers, the study reveals that the use of smartphones, as well as ag-related apps, websites and social media, has been rising since 2010.

This change is especially true for farmers and ranchers under 35 years of age, more than two-thirds of whom access ag-related websites and apps from a smartphone at least weekly.

The data show that as the sector ages, the use of digital technology will continue to increase. In spite of the growing use of digital media, print remains the #1 source for farmers and ranchers, with 80 percent using agricultural magazines or newspapers at least weekly - a figure that has remained unchanged over the last 7 years.

"Farmers and ranchers may be seen at traditionalists, but anyone trying to reach them needs to realize they are steadily growing in the digital space," said Don Tourte, Chairman of the Connectiv Agri Media Committee and a VP with Penton Agriculture. "While print still remains the essential platform for agriculture, digital offers an opportunity to communicate more quickly and in more places. Our study shows that there is likely to be even stronger digital adoption in the future, with a younger generation already using websites and smartphones much more often than their elders."

Among the key findings of the Connectiv study:

Weekly use of ag-related e-newsletters rose from 27 percent in 2010 to 38 percent in 2015.

Weekly use of text messages for ag-related information jumped from 10 percent to 22 percent during that same period, while use of ag-related websites via mobile device increased from 22 percent to 28 percent.

Use of social media remains relatively low, but weekly usages increased from 8 percent in 2010 to 12 percent in 2015.

Sixty-nine percent of farmers and ranchers under 35 years of age access ag-related websites from a smartphone at least weekly.

Sixty-eight percent of farmers and ranchers under 35 years of age access ag-related apps from a smartphone at least weekly

The study finds that, even with the increase in digital media use, print is still far-and-away the most used information platform. However, farmers and ranchers of every age group said they believe ag-related websites and apps will increase in importance over time.

This indicates that there is clear value in digital, but it is not yet ready to replace trusted sources - and may actually elevate their necessity due to the influx of information technology allows.

Use of ag-related newspapers and magazines is very high and has remained consistent - going from 79 percent in 2010 to 80 percent in 2016.

Digital leads when it comes to where things are headed in the next 3 to 4 years, with 36 percent of farmers and ranchers saying ag-related websites will be more or much more important; 34 percent identify mobile websites and 24 percent identify ag-related apps on mobile devices.

The study also finds that higher earning operators are much more likely to find digital channels important than smaller operations. This relationship between income and technology means marketers will need to continue to use an integrated media strategy to effectively impact the agriculture industry.

Media Notes: Media are invited to join a free webinar on Thursday, June 16th at 2:00 pm ET, during which Jack Semler, President & CEO of Readex Research, will walk through the results. Also participating will be two senior marketing executives: Pat Reese, Senior VP, Media Director at Sandbox, and Patsy Comella, VP, Media Director at Rhea + Kaiser. To participate, register here.

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