August 22, 2009
Survey: More farmers use computers
New York state use among those in agriculture business exceeds national average
At Jerry Dell Farm, an organic dairy farm on Gee Hill Road in Virgil and Dryden, Jeremy and Ryan Sherman use Dairy Comp 305, a computer program that tracks when the cattle are bred, when they give birth, their ages and their health conditions.
Their mother, Susan Sherman, does the farm’s bookkeeping using a program called Quick Book on her home computer.
Computer use on farms is increasing, and New York state’s percentage of farmers who use computers is higher than the national average, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In 2009, 71 percent of farmers in the state had computer access, up from 67 percent in 2007 and 63 percent in 2005, according to a news release issued early this week by the USDA.
Nationally, 64 percent of farmers had computer access in 2009.
New York state had the ninth highest percentage of farmers with computer access in the nation.
And 44 percent of New York farms use computers for their farm businesses, which is also higher than the national average of 36 percent.
The Shermans got Dairy Comp 305 from Cornell University and have been using it for about 10 years, Sherman said.
Prior to using the program, the husband had a breeding wheel — a big wheel into which he would put pins. The wheel was divided to separate different breeding dates and birth dates of the cows. Every day pins were moved forward on the wheel to track which cattle were ready to be bred again, Susan Sherman said.
“We had enough cows where we had to do something else to keep track of them better,” Sherman said.
Bill Anderson, owner of Bill Anderson’s Farm Market in Little York, has a Web site, billandersonsmarket.com, which he created this year to promote his market. He sends e-mails to his customers to inform them about when certain fruits and vegetables are available.
Anderson has been using a computer for bookkeeping for a couple of years.
Farming practices are also becoming more technology-oriented, as Rick Vilnave, the farmer who grows the crops for Anderson’s market, is using a computerized tractor that monitors planting and a computer-operated freight truck.
Heather Millen, owner of Fetch Gate Farm, a sheep farm in Virgil, has a Web site, fetchgatefarm.com, which she created five or six years ago. She sells sheep through her Web site and she advertises on sheep marketing lists through other Web sites, she said.
Millen uses computer spreadsheets for record keeping and finances.
Darrel Reakes, owner of Reakes Country Goods on Route 13 in Truxton, has a personal computer in his home, but he does not use it for purposes related to his farm or market.
Reakes grows and sells squash, pumpkins, corn cucumbers and other crops. He purchases seeds through catalogs and purchases supplies at trade shows, he said.
He has owned and operated the farm for over 30 years and still does things the old fashioned way, he said.
“We can still do business without it, and it’s working fine,” Reakes said.
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