Monday, 13 October 2008

Australian Farmers - it's time to blog on Farmnet!!

This posting is a little unusual, in that it comes from a farmer who has set up something for farmers, particularly Australian ones, called Farmnet.

There is a slight commercial angle to Dave Ricardo's Farmnet and I don't usually promote commercial entities, so I wrote to Dave asking him for a bit more info.
He's now got back to me, and I am going to say this off the bat: I recommend Australian farmers, indeed farmers anywhere who want to get into blogging, to check Farmnet out.

I also ask all of you farm bloggers out there around the world, to read Dave's impassioned email below about why farmers should be blogging and send him any ideas you have about how to get more Australian farmers involved.

My own sense is that on big or small working farms, it is most often the female partner who handles the blogging, that's just a fact.

Farming, big or small, is relentless, tiring, time-consuming with enormous highs and lows. To find the energy to blog on your farm is for some just too difficult.

It is also true that many farmers, even ones with the big sat.nav. harvesters, stuffed full of hardware and software, seem somewhat technophobic when it comes to computers and blogging. They might do their farm accounts on MS Excel, write the odd letter on MS Word, check out the odd weather website, but that can be about the sum of it.

To my mind, to get more farmers to blog they need to be realistic in their expectations - it is not a daily obligation, even a weekly one.

How to get more farmers to blog?

Show them good blogs, which this blog tries to do, that will inspire them through solidarity, the exchange of ideas and the possibility to swap real problems, personal and professional, with someone on the other side of the world who actually understands what you're going through.

Enough of me. Here's an edited version of Farmnet's Dave Ricardo's email:

Hi Ian,

It's been a busy time on the farm lately but, I haven't forgotten about you.

About the nature of Farmnet, it's not a commercial website at this time, and the blogging / web page platform will always be a free service at Farmnet. I have spent a few years trying to tell farmers why they need their own identity on the net. The only way that will happen is if its a free service.

Other than that, I do hope to create some commercial services over time, that will fit within the
Farmnet frame work, but this is probably years away. An example is the classifieds. I am giving them away at the moment - its hardly a proposition to charge for them in the next year or two.

You ask about motivation. A little history from about fifteen years ago might explain.
My wife Sue started an employment business for harvest machinery because we found it very hard to attract harvesters and transport during our busy times of harvest. Together we ran the "Harvest Hotline" as it was known - and proved to be very successful servicing hundreds of harvest contractors and farmers every year through Eastern Australia. Initially the thinking behind it was about helping farmers get their crops harvested. We covered our costs, but it was never about money. The special thing for us other than comments and praise from farmers was just knowing we had created something useful, that made a big difference to the efficiency of the Australian harvest.

That's a long time ago, but my thoughts haven't changed. I like to create useful services for farmers so they can better utilize the technology available to them. I know that sounds like hogwash but, its about staying at the forefront of farming. We all need to be constantly looking for the next challenge. Where is the next nth degree of productivity going to come from? How can we run our farms more efficiently? How will we be farming in ten to twenty years time? I ask myself often.

I think what services can I provide to help farmers live a better life. Can I make their job easier. How can farmers promote their own produce and services, their farms, lift their profile and improve their self image? Let them tell their story and ease their worries. Lower their stresses, heal, network with other farmers, become more efficient, more productive, more switched on. The concept of a blog can achieve all these things and much more.

So that is my goal, and I hope to build up this network of farm blogs at

The big question is can it be done. At times I feel I'm beating my head up against the brick wall. Most Aussie farmers have little idea about a blog - in fact I have been avoiding using the term blog up until this last month because most can't relate to it. I need to get the word out there and promote it further - a friend (marketing guru) even started a blog to tell me to change the way I was marketing it. See He's right on target.
Does my explanation of Farmnet's usefulness demonstrate a believable positive outcome to farmers? Apparently not. (Where's that brick wall?)

If you are interested I was on the ABC radio talking about farmers and blogging for a few minutes today 10/10/08.

I was a bit nervous and a few answers never come out quite right on the spare of the minute but I thought it was a reasonable interview.

The amazing thing is this program covers almost a third of New South Wales. Lots of farmers, yet there were no new blog registrations today. (Pass the brick)

Any ideas would be much appreciated. Anyway I am sure it will continue to grow over time.

So, that's the call to action.

If you are a farm blogger and have ideas for Dave, please get in touch with him via Farmnet.

If you're an Australian farmer reading this, and not blogging, also check out Farmnet and contact Dave for more info.

And if you are one of our Australian bloggers, please contact Dave - he's a man on a mission and he needs your help and support.

A Place in the Auvergne
A Place in My Country
Ian Walthew

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1 comment:

micos duri said...

Farming is not just a profession. It is a Passion.....
The purpose of this site is to cover farming and agriculture activities, news and event.