26 August 2013
A University of the Sunshine Coast researcher is investigating whether fruit and vegetable growers are making effective use of new technologies to improve their management practices and crop yields.
Sherrill Cooper of Forest Glen is studying a Business PhD in information systems after working in academia and private industry in information systems, business analysis and project management.
“This research idea stems from my career background and my keen interest in social informatics – the human side of technology,” said Ms Cooper.
After collecting data from horticultural farmers on the Sunshine Coast and across Queensland, she will analyse their use of Internet-based extension tools and their potential use of Web 2.0 technologies.
Web 2.0 technologies are the latest advances in websites, such as interactive applications.
Ms Cooper recently did fieldwork at Bellthorpe, west of Peachester, after finishing a pilot study with avocado growers.
“My research involves running online questionnaires at various grower group meetings and conducting face-to-face interviews with farmers,” she said.
Her online questionnaire has so far been completed by a group of avocado farmers and macadamia nut farmers, to be followed later this year by pineapple, mango and vegetable grower groups.
“Farmers need accurate, timely and relevant information to resolve critical issues and in general to manage and adapt their farming processes in order to remain viable and competitive,” she said.
“While many farmers have access to various Internet-based extension tools using rural-focused websites and Web 2.0 technologies, not enough is known about the uptake and effectiveness of these tools.
“My findings have the potential to improve decision-making in agricultural enterprises by assessing the usability and effectiveness of existing extension tools and providing guidelines for the development of new tools based on Web 2.0 technologies.”
— Julie Schomberg