Farming From a Computer

In the past, farm management was conducted out of the field, which required the farmer to manage the farm from an office. Today, with new technologies, farmers and ranchers are realizing that the computer is their friend. They are learning to manage their expenses, communicate with fellow agriculturalists, share agricultural information and receive answers to farm-related problems from a computer. Thus, the Internet is proving once again that it can revolutionize even the most traditional industries.

The virtual farm office has no walls and few limitations, said Steve Sonka, University of Illinois management expert. Agriculturalists are just now starting to learn how to use the Internet for business purposes (3).

"When we think of the virtual farm office of the future, don't put yourself in a room-your office will be where you are," Sonka said. "It will be much like the tractor cab of today where many decisions are already made. The office is where you are" (3).

We will now take a look at a model of a virtual farm office.

CyberFarm is a working model of a virtual farm office. At CyberFarm, one can access information, communicate with others and make collaborative decisions with business associates, all from a keyboard. CyberFarm is made up of 100 volunteers-farmers and local agricusiness people-who meet once a month at the Champaign County, Illinois, Farm Bureau office (3).

"They created CyberFarm because they wanted to create a prototype of what their future might look like," Sonka said. "It's driven not by technology but by their business needs" (3).

CyberFarm includes two "real" farmers-Kent Krukewitt and John Riefsteck. These Champaign County farmers agreed to provide detailed statistics, production information and even photos of their families on these home pages (3).

Return Home.