Linda Benedict, Gautreaux, Craig | 9/28/2011 7:44:16 PM
A recent study examined the preferences of Louisiana farmers and crop consultants related to acquiring agricultural information. A secondary purpose of the study was to determine how farmers perceived LSU AgCenter information sources on accuracy, awareness and usefulness.
Data for the study were obtained through surveys completed by 176 farmers in early 2011 and 32 crop consultants who completed an online survey.
Both groups had a preference for interpersonal communication sources over mass media sources. Overall, farmers’ preferred source was crop consultants followed closely by AgCenter personnel and print materials. For crop consultants, their preferred sources were AgCenter personnel, other crop consultants and AgCenter print materials.
When comparing the usage of mass media sources, both groups scored these sources significantly lower than the interpersonal communication sources. Radio and television, newspapers and periodicals were consistently in the bottom half of the ratings.
The study sought to determine whether there were preferences among information sources when specific components of farming were analyzed. These components were crop variety selection, cultural practices, pest management issues and market issues.
For the producers, crop consultants were the most preferred source followed closely by AgCenter personnel and print materials for crop variety selection, cultural practices and pest management issues. There was no consensus source for market issues.
For consultants, the most preferred source for cultural practices was a tie among AgCenter personnel, other crop consultants and AgCenter print material. For crop variety selection, other crop consultants were the most preferred source followed by the AgCenter. For pest management issues, AgCenter personnel was the most preferred source followed by other crop consultants and AgCenter print materials. Crop consultants were not measured on the component market issues.
Farmers were highly aware of information offered by the AgCenter, except for radio and television segments. Crop consultants were extremely aware of the AgCenter website.
Both farmers and consultants used AgCenter information sources often for issues related to crop variety selection, cultural practices and pest management issues. Producers sometimes used AgCenter information sources for market issues, but consultants rarely did.
Farmers rated AgCenter information as highly accurate. Consultants rated parish extension agents and television and radio segments as moderately accurate.
(This article was published in the summer 2011 issue of Louisiana Agriculture magazine.)