Teagasc researchers look at benefits and obstacles to farmer smartphone use

Two Teagasc researchers recently published an article which looks at the benefit – and obstacles – for farmers in using their smartphones as part of their work.

The study, carried out by Ursula Kenny and Áine Regan of Teagasc Mellows Campus, Athenry, Co. Galway, examined the factors which influence Irish farmers’ engagement with smartphones and new smartphone apps and explored the supports required by farmers to successfully engage with smartphone apps for farming use.

The study saw seven focus groups formed, comprising 41 farmers in four regions across the country.

According to the results of the study, factors such as poor broadband internet availability; a lack of comfort with new technologies; technology “trust issues”; and a perceived lack of benefits all deterred farmers’ engagement with smartphones and agricultural apps.

However, some farmers perceived a benefit to smartphone use for agricultural purposes, such as an enhanced sense of empowerment; a more flexible lifestyle; a reduction in stress; improved time efficiency; an enhanced level of communication with governing bodies; and an ability to make data-driven decisions.

When asked what kind of support networks can and should be used by farmers to assist them in smartphone and agricultural app technology, the respondents answered with agricultural advisors; family members; and peers.

The findings outline the importance of understanding the barriers and enablers of farmers’ engagement with smartphones and agricultural apps in Ireland.

The researchers argued: “The findings are of interest to researchers in the field of smart farming technology, as well as developers and providers of agricultural smartphone apps, since this research is one of the first studies to provide information about the underlying factors driving or preventing smartphone and app use among farmers.”