Embracing Technology

Embracing Technology

Embracing Technology. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

I have been a computer user since almost the beginning using an old Commodore 64 to write radio ad copy too many years ago to think about. Oregon's farming and ranching community was also an early adopter of high technology and remains among the national leaders in the usage of computers as part of their operations. Results of a recent national survey indicate that computers are just as important to most Oregon agricultural producers as the tractor or any other common type of equipment.

POLAND:  The State of Oregon has always been progressive in computer use. We've always been the early innovators and it seems that's the case in what we see in the numbers today.

Steve Poland is information systems manager for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. According to the survey, Oregon ranks fifth in the nation in the percentage of farm operations with access to a computer, at 79 percent, and fourth in the percentage of farmers that actually own or lease a computer, at 75 percent. Another interesting survey result, Oregon is third in the nation in operators who access the Internet via wireless service.

POLAND:  People who could not get high speed Internet access, now they are getting it through a wireless access where if they are in a range of let's say six to ten miles of a tower within sight, they can actually get that wireless connection to their home or to their farm.

Oregon has consistently been a leader in computer usage by farmers and ranchers. But the percentages are leveling off while other states are catching up. Poland attributes that to other states being much slower in coming around to high technology while Oregon was an early adopter. Poland says Oregon's percentages on computer usage have actually slipped a bit. Part of it may be blamed on the bad economy but it's also likely that farmers and ranchers are using something other than computers to access the Internet such as personal digital assistants, or PDAs.

POLAND: No, that's the great thing about smart phones today. It's all in the applications. That's what we are seeing in the smart phones is applications that are almost like a desktop computer and giving you the ability to do your work on a smart phone. That portability now runs with everywhere as opposed to laptop.

Poland says the Oregon Department of Agriculture is working to provide as much customer service electronically as possible. Knowing that Oregon agriculture ranks high in computer usage is pushing ODA in that direction.

POLAND: Eventually, I think we will see licensing coming of age in an online renewal type situation. That's down as far as our goals to happen.  Getting information out there and trying to stay as paperless as possible.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Northwest Ag Information Network.

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