Enhancing Agriculture: 3 Ideas for Digital Transformation.

It’s a digital world. As your agricultural business expands, avenues for attracting employees and connecting with customers are increasingly moving into the digital age. Sure, you’ve got a website and have played around with social media, but how can you transform your business in order to stand-out from the crowd?

Here we look at three easy ways to enhance the digital world at your fingertips.

  1. Personalise Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin – the social media list goes on and sometimes the fundamental message and customer connection can be lost.

John Gladigau and Robin Schaefer from the collaborative farm Bulla Burra (www.collaborativefarmingaustralia.com) prefer their image to remain personal.

“When we started Bulla Burra, we said we would never bag anyone in the media and we would always promote a positive image of agriculture.” John says. “We have tried to create a forum where people are comfortable to ask questions and we will answer those quickly and honestly. It’s about creating a cultural change where people feel good about agriculture and want to work for us.”

Following that ethos John and Robin have created the Bulla Burra Facebook page, which opens their 11000ha grain operation in South Australia’s Mallee region to the public. These are some of the ways the site is personalised:

  • They talk about their dogs – “People are always asking about our dogs,” John says.
  • They post photos of machinery breakdowns keeping the story real
  • They share posts from other good-news agriculture sites
  • They post videos of the harvest in action

And is the personal approach working for John and Robin? Last year over 45 people applied for positions through Facebook – far outnumbering the jobs available.

  1. Share the Agribusiness Family

How many websites do you visit only to yawn in the first few seconds and click off? How do you keep customers interested? Meredith Dairy in Victoria does this by sharing their family.

Run by Sandy and Julie Cameron, Meredith Dairy farms goats and sheep and produces hand-made cheese and yoghurt. It is a family operation and their son Angus is an important link in the digital transformation. He lives in Melbourne and takes care of much of the marketing and website direction, including the production of videos to further educate and create that family atmosphere. In doing so he taps into the younger, tech-savvy generation.

Visit their website (www.meredithdairy.com) to watch:

  • Sandy talk of the origins of this family farm
  • Julie explain how sustainability enhances agriculture
  • Angus reminisce about growing up amongst goats and sheep

They continue this feeling of kinship throughout their social media pages. “A lot of Facebook sites, in particular, appear to be done by a professional and have lost that personal touch, which is something we are very aware of. We want our communications to appear spontaneous and genuine,” Sandy says.

  1. Get Outside the Agribusiness Box

In order to connect with customers and encourage future employees within their business Huon Aquaculture, Frances and Peter Bender have taken the concept of the website one step further with their Sustainability Dashboard (www.dashboard.huonaqua.com.au). This interactive reporting tool allows the public an insider’s view into the world of salmon. “I think we were the first company in the world to do something like that,” Peter says. ‘It gives people confidence that we are open and transparent and answers a lot of questions.’

This particular digital enhancement offers real-time data on many aspects of Huon’s operation, and divides the areas of interest into visually attractive tiles. Some of the many tiles are:

  • Hideaway Bay – giving weather conditions and forecasts for the salmon sea pens
  • Time to Market – describing the amount of time taken from harvest to processing and then to any market in the world
  • Employees – graphs show not only the number of people employed but the gender distribution and changes over time
  • Growing Conditions – dissolved oxygen amounts and water temperatures critical to growing salmon
  • Seal Interactions – ‘seals are big (up to 450kg), smart and seem to like salmon,’ says the Dashboard, which records sightings, entries into salmon pens and accidental deaths of seals.
  • Salmon Cam – a video showing the salmon in the sea pens
  • Huon Helping Hand – details of financial grants made available to the community

The creation of the Sustainability Dashboard has gone a long way to creating customer confidence and employment opportunities, following the Huon mantra of: “Employing good people results in a positive work environment and farming success.”

How Else Can We Enhance Agriculture?

Meredith Dairy, Bulla Burra and Huon Aquaculture all started business life as family farmers on traditional sheep and cattle, or grain properties. What other methods have they used to transform their businesses into these successful operations?

Download our free 2016 Agribusiness Talent and Training Report to find out.

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