The second motivation for our input in agriculture is way easier (first motivation – see previous article). How did innovations like control hydraulics, all-wheel drive, the turning plough and the harvester change our work in agriculture? While in former years milestones were set in size and speed, nowadays the focus is set on precision and comfort. Why should I catch up on my records in the evening, when I am able to do it during work? Isn´t it fascinating, how many sensors and how much processing power can be packed into such a little smartphone? A computer in the 40s weighed up to one ton! And nowadays we constantly carry around computers that are way more powerful.
Anyways, size and processing power aren´t the deciding factors concerning why computers can be used profitably in agriculture. In the last ten years, electronic recordkeeping for field reports wasn´t a big hit: Over 90% of farmers prefer hand-written reports. Why would it change? User-friendliness! In the industry, they discovered the additional value of information technology quite early, because the size of the organization allowed them to develop experts for office jobs, for example for planning, development and documentation. We have other conditions in agriculture, so we don´t fulfil these requirements. 80% of Austrian farms are family-run businesses and they haven´t got their own office workers. We can´t give users in agriculture an expert system and wonder why nobody wants to use it. The cost-benefit ratio is only satisfying when it is self-explanatory and easy to handle. When I am faster with pencil and paper, even though I have to transfer every word in five other reports and evaluate it laboriously by foot, the technology makes no sense.