Agriculture, the cultivation and processing of animals and plants for food, fibers and other byproducts, has been at the very heart of human civilization. Farming created an abundance of food that fostered the development of significantly denser and more sophisticated societies. The necessity for the major agricultural products (foods, fibers, fuels, and raw materials) will always be there and in ever increasing amounts as the world's growing population demands.
This challenge has spurred on change through innovation and ingenuity in agricultural practices to meet these demands. The internet, which is fundamentally a tool of information and communication, has virtually changed every aspect of modern life, but has it played a part in the age old practices of agriculture and can it cultivate the changes needed to meet increasing needs?
Sourcing, interpreting and applying information has always been a key factor in the success of agricultural practices. From being able to read and predict weather patterns to identifying diseases and finding cures, information has always been critical. Communication between producers, consumers and service providers is a key essential in determining success.
Prior to the Internet, farmers obtained information relating to management, markets or changes in their industries was limited to radio, mail and the face-to-face encounters with relevant parties and/or individuals. Limitations of these means of communication meant that information was limited, not always accurate and received with delay. The Internet however changed that dramatically and brought about a new era in agriculture.
While radio, mail and human interaction remain important information delivery mechanisms, the impact and subsequent results of information and communication through the internet is profound and undeniable. Accurate Information is now abundantly available in near real-time and farmers have unlimited channels of communication with all relevant parties from the service provider the the consumer.
This has lead to those in agriculture being able to accurately analyse the past, apply decisive actions in the present and to better anticipate the future all resulting in more successful agricultural processes and returns.
Although you can't change the past, if analysed accurately, it can provide the information to make changes that will affect the present and future. The internet has a wealth of stored information and data pertaining to everything from weather patterns to market fluctuations and outbreaks of diseases to consumer habits. Once analysed, information is then available to equip those in the agricultural industries with a foundation to apply actions to day to day processes that will have positive short and long term results.
Applying action today
The Internet can provide agriculturally relevant information in near real-time and increasingly in real-time as technological advances are constantly being made. From accurate current weather and market information to new available equipment and methods, the Internet provides the agricultural industry with the ability to apply decisive actions and change to everyday, ongoing processes and practices like never before.
Any successful farmer will have their one eye on the the present and the other on the future. Agricultural is an ongoing seasonal industry that functions today to provide for tomorrow and it is this very aspect that can either make or break those who make it their livelihood. By using the internet to source information that can aid in anticipating future demands and shortages, the agricultural industry can thus be better advised to make informed decisions that will insure future success.
The Internet has not only changed the delivery mechanisms of information, but has also introduced new methods of practice, opened up new markets, challenged industry standards and given a voice to many who had been silenced by the industry giants. All these and many more are proof that the Internet is cultivating change in agriculture which will ultimately ensure successful outcomes.
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