Grains and field crops
Department of Agriculture
The Western Australian Department of Agriculture produces information for farmers which is disseminated through various mass media, The Australian Broadcasting Commission and commercial media outlets provide further agricultural information, In 1983 a telephone survey of cereal-sheep farmers was undertaken to determine what information sources were used by farmers, and how farmers used that information.
A number of information processing factors were taken from communication research literature, These were accessibility and availability; surveillance and exposure; selection; storage and retrieval. From within this theoretical framework, information sources such as farming magazines, radio and television programmes were examined.
Special attention was given to evaluating the performance of the following Department of Agriculture media: Farmnotes, Bulletins, Journal of Agriculture, Direct Mail Service, Agricultural Memos, Farming Today and radio broadcasts. There was considerable activity by farmers in surveillance, selection, storing and retrieving of information.
It was found that the availability and exposure of Departmental media to farmers was high, except for the Journal of Agriculture, It is recommended that the form and content of the Journal be reviewed, and the circulation of this and other information sources be further increased. Revision of the little used Agdex filing system is also necessary. Other recommendations include: greater recognition of the role of the farm family in information processing, the provision of 'entertaining' agricultural television programmes for rural communities, and the need for farmer awareness of information storage and retrieval systems.
Because the functions of the Direct Mail Service and Agricultural Memos were found to overlap, it is suggested that the use of these information sources could be studied further to test for redundancies in Departmental effort. It is also proposed that the Department should not commit itself to disseminating technical information through audio and video-tapes unless the effectiveness of these media can be demonstrated.
Number of Pages
Fry, P W, and Goss, K F. (1983), Farmers' use of agricultural information 1983. Department of Agriculture, Perth. Report.
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