Study: Information needs, preferences, and information behaviour of European farmers, foresters and advisors

The problem-solving strategies of primary sector practitioners rely largely on online resources. This is a main result of a study conducted by researchers of the EU EUREKA project in 2020.

In an increasingly digital working environment, farmers, foresters, and agricultural advisors are relying more and more on online searches for professional questions. This is one of the main findings of a survey, which was carried out by researchers from the EU´s EUREKA project in 2020. While peer-to-peer information and printed materials still play an important role in the information process, web searches are used by 83 % of the interviewed persons. The survey also showed that video and image-based online information plays an important role in the information process. The aim of the survey was to gain insights into the information behaviour of EU farmers, foresters, and advisors. From April to June 2020, 40 people from 20 EU countries were interviewed (15 farmers, 13 advisors to farmers, 7 foresters, and 5 advisors to foresters). 58 % of the practitioners said, that they were looking for video-based online information. This reflects the practical and ´do it yourself” attitude of farmers: Videos are needed to learn about technologies and farming practices. Advisors need videos as an information tool.

45 % of the practitioners said that they search for pictures, images, and photos. Images are often searched for when quick information is needed. 70 % of the interviewed farmers, foresters, and advisors also use smartphone applications for professional purposes. For example, apps for precision farming, precision irrigation, and weather forecasting. Social media is a main source of information for 65 % of the interviewed practitioners. They use social media to gather information on specific topics and as a virtual space for exchange.

The results of the Horizon 2020-funded EUREKA project provides an important contribution to the development of the agricultural and forestry knowledge platform EU-FarmBook. A better understanding of the information behaviour of European farmers, foresters and advisors helps to adapt the platform to the needs of the target groups. Szabolcs VÁGÓ from the research team says: “The strong need for an easy-to-use information system that provides reliable and useful information for farmers, foresters and advisors became apparent during the research.”

Based on the results of the study, conclusions can be drawn for the development of future information offerings, for the exchange and dissemination of knowledge and innovation, especially with the background that practitioners have little time for long research in their busy daily work. The peer-reviewed study entitled “Information behaviour of farmers, foresters, and advisors in the context of digitalisation in the EU” has been published in the journal “Studies in Agricultural Economics” in 2023 and is available here.

Dr. VÁGÓ Szabolcs
Institute of Agricultural Economics Nonprofit Kft. (AKI);
Publisher Headquarters: Zsil utca 3-5, 1093-Budapest, Hungary

Gábor KIRÁLY, Szabolcs VÁGÓ, Emily BULL, Laurens van der CRUYSSEN, Tyler ARBOUR, Pieter SPANOGHE and Lisa van DIJK

Studies in Agricultural Economics

The framework of this study is provided by a Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Action project.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the European Commission can be held responsible for them.
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