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From information on markets and weather to usage of e-mail and online commerce, more growers are finding what they need online. This is one of the conclusions offered in the just-released AgWeb2001™ study from Inc., King of Prussia, Pa.

AgWeb has been conducting this survey of Internet usage in production agriculture for six years. "There’s been an interesting shift in the user profile over the past few years," says Robert Hill, AgWeb’s vice president of research. "As the late majority embraces the Internet, there is a bigger focus on the benefits of saving time and being more convenient."

The study also documents the emergence of Internet brand identities for the ag sector. "In general, farmers are looking less to manufacturers on the Internet and more toward information-based portals," Hill reports. "The days of a farmer clicking on manufacturers’ sites merely because of brand name familiarity are ending. Today, you’ve got to be adding some value to get and hold the visitors’ attention."

More than 800 farmers nationwide were interviewed in March for the AgWeb2001™ study. As shown in the accompanying chart of results for Midwest farmers, overall technology adoption by farmers has stabilized in the past few years, with cell phones being nearly universal and personal computers not far behind.

Similarly, the study reveals that the rush to get online by farmers has slowed. "There’s not much excitement in the tech hardware variables," Hill adds. "And the study shows that people no longer get Internet access just to ‘be online.’ The tipping point in this market is being defined at the utility end." From the farmers’ perspective, it’s not what you have, it’s how you use it.

According to the study, Midwest farmers are finding increased utility of the Internet for production agriculture. There is a 67& increase of average time spent online for ag purposes; a 47% increase in farmers who are buying inputs online; and 65% of farmers with e-mail access check their e-mail daily. AM

Full study results are available on a subscription basis, including data on both farmers and crop chemical retailers in the Midwest and elsewhere in the U.S. For more details, contact Robert Hill of AgWeb at 610/205-3015, or email him at

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