UK farmers get broadband, blogging, and social networking

Filed as News on February 15, 2007 10:54 pm

According to the Guardian, around 70% of British farmers are now connected to the Internet, with a large percentage of those having broadband connections. This is leading to increased online activity, particularly at the Farmers Weekly Interactive web site, and fuelled by the recent outbreak of Avian Flu in Suffolk.

I’ll be honest, farmers aren’t the first group I think of engaging in social networking sites online. In fact, I’m a little surprised that so many farmers have been able to find a UK telecoms company that’ll run broadband to their farmhouse.

Then again, the Net is proving yet again to be a perfect repository of up-to-date news and information.

Julian Gairdner, online editor at Farmers Weekly, has seen traffic spike on www.fwi.co.uk in the past week as both the core audience and general public have gone to the site for advice.

“We took a view that we could not be anything but the best provider of information about the avian flu outbreak in Suffolk,” he says. “These are great opportunities for us to show what we can do on the site.”

The magazine has had a website for almost eight years but only in the last 18 months has the spread of broadband made new features viable. Some 70% of farmers are now on the internet and about half of those have broadband,” says Mr Gairdner. “About 18 months ago it was probably half that.”

The Guardian also reports that owners of Farmers Weekly Magazine, Reed – the UK’s leading business magazine publisher – is looking at expanding the online reach of some of its print publications:

Reed Business Information started its major web push in late 2005, and for its trade journals one of the underlying principles is a love of talking shop. From a standing start last summer, nearly 50 blogs have sprung up, from Kitchen Rat on the Caterer and Hotelkeeper site to the Big Lorry Blog for Commercial Motor magazine.

What’s encouraging is that journalists working on Reed’s print titles are also being encouraged to blog, and to create their own video content.

And to prove that all sorts make it online, and find an audience, here’s my favourite development:

Not to be outdone, the Big Lorry Blog has introduced a favourite truck smells debate. Its author, Brian Weatherley, is editor-in-chief of Commercial Motor and Truck & Driver. He concedes a lot of traffic comes from enthusiasts but with more than half a million heavy goods licence holders in Britain, there are plenty of them to serve.

“A lot of my readers are anoraks but God bless them because they send lots of stuff to me,” he says.

Indeed.

More goings on can be read in the original article.

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  1. By Hermes posted on February 17, 2007 at 7:35 am
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    Does put paid a bit to the stories that rural areas are being discriminated against in the broadband revolution doesn’t it?

  2. By Adam posted on February 17, 2007 at 4:31 pm
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    Depends on the country, I suspect. Britain is more compact that the US, so distance-based broadband technologies like ADSL can actually reach some rural properties. In the big open spaces of the US? More of a problem.

    Nice to see the Blog Herald picking up (even if second hand) our work on getting journalists blogging at RBI. :-)

  3. By Mark Tomin posted on February 18, 2007 at 10:19 pm
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    South Korea has reached nearly 90% of broadband coverage and is quite similiar, geographicaly, to UK. I don’t understand what’s taking so long for UK. Still, good to see it increase.

    Nationwide Bandwidth