Dr. Ursula Kenny and Áine Egan, Teagasc, recently published in Rural Studies, an article related to the findings of the NIVA project (IE team).
As the use of smartphone technology is becoming increasingly popular in the agricultural context, there is a need to consider how farmers have adapted to this form of technology. The current study examined the factors which influence Irish farmers’ engagement with smartphone use and new smartphone apps and explored the supports required by farmers to successfully engage with smartphone apps for agriculture use. Seven focus groups were conducted with a total of 41 farmers from four regions in the Republic of Ireland. Findings revealed that factors such as poor broadband internet availability, coupled with a lack of comfort with emerging technologies, technology trust issues, and a perceived lack of sufficient benefits deterred farmers’ engagement with smartphone technology and agricultural apps. Perceived benefits of smartphone engagement also emerged including an enhanced sense of empowerment, a more flexible lifestyle, a reduction in stress, an improvement in time efficiency, an enhanced level of communication between farmers and their respective governing bodies and, an ability to make data-driven decisions on the farm. Perceived support networks to aid farmers in using agricultural apps included farm 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 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.