How producers build their knowledge base has certainly changed in recent years.
When you have been a journalist as long as I have been, and have been following agriculture as part of your career, then you will have attended literally dozens of meetings designed to inform producers.
Over the years those meetings have ranged from the potential of lupins and seabuckthorn to the community potential to large scale mushroom farms, to what is coming down the pipe in terms of canola varieties and oat markets.
But the number of meetings on the agenda each year are certainly in decline.
It’s not a case where there is nothing new to tell farmers about. The use of robotic machinery, field mapping with aerial drones, new crops such as camelina, herbicide resistant weeds and changing markets are just some of the current areas where there are always new information being released.
The difference today is that a town hall meeting is falling out of favour.
There are several logical reasons for that, including producer time, the cost of touring expertise, weather threats to attendance in winter, and facility costs. Those are not new concerns, but today there is an alternative.
Farm producers, like most of us, have become much more comfortable using the computer, the notebook, and the cellphone. These devices open the door to knowledge at your fingertips.
And it can be information specific to a particular interest.
To borrow from my own world, I am a huge fan of the Canadian Football League, but coverage in terms of news and league talk on even Canadian sports television is limited.
But tune into the Internet and search out CFL podcasts and you find shows such as ‘The Waggle’, ‘2 and Out’ and ‘For Your Earballs’.
There is a new Major League Rugby loop launching in 2018. I love rugby, and the podcast ‘Earful of Dirt’ has already begun providing insight into the new league.
Name your interest, and you are likely to find podcasts which fill the niche in terms of information.
And it goes farther as well.
Today, for farm producers there are numerous online options to gather information primarily at their own convenience. They can tune in over coffee in the morning, while out swathing a crop, or driving down the highway with a load of grain.
You see farm organizations moving their educational programs to the ‘Net as well.
Every once in a while I get a message coming across Facebook advertising a webinar hosted by the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers. This year such webinars have included’ Scouting for Disease in Pulse Crops, Soybean Agronomy, and Nutrient Requirements and Contribution of Pulse Crops. Such events are specific to the pulse producer, and specific to certain aspects of the broader pulse sector. Farmers don’t need to drive to Saskatoon for such events, but can sit at home and learn.
Certainly, the area of webinars, podcasts and other Internet-based programs are the future of farm producer information dissemination.
Calvin Daniels is Editor of Yorkton This Week.