It's no surprise that producers are steadily adopting new technologies on the farm, like GPS systems, yield monitors and other helpful tools, but where does a basic computer fit in?
According the USDA's latest estimate of farm computer usage and ownership, released Monday, 70% of U.S. farms have access to a computer in 2013, up 5 percentage points from 2011, though only 40% report using the computer for their farm business. That's compared to 37% in 2011.
Right up there with computer access tallies, 67% of farms in the United States now have Internet access, compared with 62% in 2011.
DSL was the most common method of accessing the Internet, with 35% of the farms in the United States using it, compared to 38% in 2011. Wireless was the second most common method of Internet access at 24% in 2013, up from 20% in 2011.
Dialup access dropped from 12% in 2011 to 5% in 2013, and cable and satellite access were each reported as the primary Internet access method on 13 and 17% of farms in the United States, respectively.
The region representing the strongest access to internet was the West; the lowest percentage was in the South.
Size of farms in relation to internet use
When compared to economic class, computer use rises with sales and government payments, in general.
Leading the way are farms with sales and government payments of $250,000 or more, which report 84% have access to a computer, 83% own or lease a computer, 72% are using a computer for their farm business, and 82% have Internet access.
Of the farms with sales and government payments between $100,000 and $249,999, 73% have access to a computer, 71% own or lease a computer, 56% are using a computer for their farm business, and 69% have Internet access.
The farms with sales and government payments between $10,000 and $99,999, 68% reported having computer access, 66% own or lease a computer, 45% use a computer for their farm business, and 65% have Internet access.
By type of farm
For crop farms, 71% have computer access and 45% use a computer for their farm business in 2013, both up 4 percentage points from 2011. Internet access for crop farms has increased to 68% in 2013, compared with 64% in 2011.
In 2013, a total of 70% of livestock farms have computer access and 66% have Internet access. Among dairy, beef, cotton and grain & oilseed operations, dairy farms have the lowest computer and internet access rates.
The 2013 computer usage estimates are based on responses from over 26,960 agricultural operations and represent all sizes and types of farms.
Check out the complete report, Farm Computer Usage and Ownership, 2013.