The power of community...

4May2010

Billions of people are talking, sharing, selling, flirting, and arguing online every second of every day. And the fastest growing bit of the internet is social networks says a Nielsen report from 2009. Two thirds of the world’s internet population now visit a social network or blogging site and now account for one in every 11 minutes of time spent online. 

What’s that got to do with farming, I hear you ask? Well, social media is about ideas, change and collaboration. And that’s exactly what the farming industry is calling for. We’ve commissioned surveys tracking farmer opinions on climate change for the past three years. In our latest one, we asked a representative sample of farmers if they thought that farmers should work together and share ideas to combat climate change. A massive 82% said Yes, coming up with ideas like setting up buying/sharing cooperatives, or ‘knowledge’ cooperatives.

Democratising knowledge and ideas in this way is part of the reason that Barack Obama was able to translate ‘Yes we can’ into a residency at the White House – some even call him the first ‘Social Media President’. His campaign team used his blog, Flickr page, YouTube channel, Twitter tweets and website forums to create a buzz, galvanize support and help people to believe that change was possible.

Farming and land management may seem a million miles from the heady political heights of Capitol Hill, but it’s not so different. In the agricultural sector we’re facing a big challenge. Food production needs to go up at the same time as environmental impact needs to go down. And given the way prices are going, all this has to happen with less energy and more efficient use of resources.

We don’t know what the future’s going to look like, but you can bet it’ll probably look very different. After all, it’s only 50 years ago that the widespread introduction of synthetic fertilisers, new grain varieties and hybrid seeds powered the ‘green revolution’ that has fed our burgeoning population.

When you look at it like that, ideas, change and collaboration are exactly what's needed. And that’s why we’ve set up this blog. We need the expert advice from scientists, researchers and opinion formers. But just as importantly, we need the experiences of farmers and land managers on the ground who are trying new things out every day.

Just take a look at the other two blogs posted today. Both are from farmers experimenting with new management techniques that can reduce emissions, environmental impacts, and often costs too. There are many more of you out there, and we want to hear from you. A survey conducted by the National Farm Research Unit reported this week that the number of farmers using the internet is growing – some 56% are now online.

This blog is one place where those voices can be heard. You can join the conversation by getting in touch with us - our contact details are in the left-hand side navigation bar. Let’s lead the debate rather than get held to account by others who get there before us.

 

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