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Technology use by sheep and beef farmers.

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Executive Summary

Farming is increasing in complexity. As such technology is becoming more important in businesses to understand impacts on both financial and physical performance. Top farmers typically lead effective technology adoption. However, this is not always the case. Five Wairarapa farmers along with one Central North Island Farmer were interviewed to determine how and why technology is used in farm businesses, to be a top farmer.

Past research in this area has been minimal, particularly in the sheep and beef sector. The majority of the research has been conducted with dairy industry funding. As such, little is really known about how and why top sheep and beef farmers use technology.

Budgeting technology was a key part of each farm business, and the only technology used by all six farmers. Farmax and Farm IQ were the two other technologies that were utilised in four of these farm businesses and were a key to their success.

Three important findings have emerged from this research. Firstly, top farmers are intrinsically successful. Technology just assists them in knowing their position to make informed decisions. Secondly, ground-truthing the results from technology with the farmers gut-feel and observations in the paddock is critical to effective decision making. Finally, technology provides some level of ‘insurance’ against events that may render the key decision maker unable to perform their duties for an extended period.

Technology use is unique to individuals, but some themes emerge time after time. Therefore, a greater understanding of these will lead to a more successful and resilient sheep and beef industry.

It is hoped this report will stimulate further discussion and investigation into technology-use on farms by farmers and industry professionals alike.