A conspectus on providing farm management advisers in N.Z. with computer-support
On-going developments within the computer industry are resulting in computer systems which are increasingly compact, powerful, robust, easy to use, and inexpensive. This means that computer power can be utilized by a much wider audience than has traditionally been the case and for a far broader range of applications. For instance, there are now a number of viable alternatives whereby farm advisers could be provided with a computing capability. The objective of this study is to develop a general conspectus on the establishment of computer-support systems for use by farm management advisers and consultants in NZ. General areas of application for computer-support within the advisory/consultancy environment are defined. A postal survey, conducted in order to characterize the involvement of advisers in one of these areas - the preparation of quantitative analyses, or management tools – is documented. The availability of software and data bases for the various areas of application outlined is discussed, and a number of alternatives by which advisers could be provided with a computing capability - including the programmable calculator, the microcomputer, on-line access to centralized computing facilities, and mail-in/mail-out access to centralized computing facilities - are described and compared. The history of agricultural information systems is then traced in terms of methods of implementation and adoption rates achieved. A field evaluation based on qualitative research methodology undertaken in order to ascertain adviser reaction to the prospect of computer-support in general and to a number of the alternatives for providing them with computer-support (in particular, the programmable calculator and the microcomputer) is described. Finally, a prospective view is taken of how computer-support could perhaps be best provided for advisers (initially) and farmers (eventually) in the NZ situation, and a number of key issues relating to the implementation of such a system are discussed. It is concluded that the concept of providing advisers with a computing capability is entirely realistic in technical as well as economic terms. Moreover, advisers themselves are enthusiastic about the prospect of such developments: adoption is assured. The need for computer-support applications to be well conceived, designed, implemented, and promoted is stressed. An integrated, multi-level computer-support system is proposed for the NZ situation. Considerable emphasis is placed on the desirability of a co-ordinated and co-operative approach to system development if maximum benefits are to be obtained.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsfarm management; computer support; agricultural extension; farm advisers; quantitative analyses; agricultural information systems; management system; agricultural management; integrated management
Fields of Research070105 Agricultural Systems Analysis and Modelling; 070106 Farm Management, Rural Management and Agribusiness
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