Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Production Research
Embracing the future

Technology is our friend.


April 18, 2008
By Marg Land


Topics

Technology is our friend. That’s
what my husband, a mechanical engineering-type who can just listen to
his car engine and know whether the windshield washer fluid is low or
if the oil needs to be changed, has been telling me for years.

Technology is our friend. That’s what my husband, a mechanical engineering-type who can just listen to his car engine and know whether the windshield washer fluid is low or if the oil needs to be changed, has been telling me for years.

But while you’re busy beating your head against your computer monitor as streams of data busily hide in the nether world of the hard drive, it’s hard to remember that.

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I recently had the opportunity to be reminded of the beneficial power of technology during a special day-long educational session on organic berry production, organized by the Ontario Berry Growers’ Association. Held at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food’s main offices in Guelph, Ontario, the event featured presentations by noted researchers based in New Jersey and California. What made their presentations interesting, beside the content, was the fact none of the guest speakers were actually physically present in Guelph. Instead, using the wonderful advancements of technology, the researchers spoke from their offices in the U.S., their voices transmitted through the telephone line while their images were broadcast, via teleconferencing, on TV screens in the room. Even their PowerPoint presentations were viewable to the audience, even though they were installed on laptops hundreds of kilometres away.

There were a few glitches; how could there not be. After all, this is technology we’re dealing with – a rather fickle companion.

Yet even with the few technological problems, it was an amazing opportunity for interested growers to learn more about organic berry production; an opportunity to learn from noted researchers who
may not have been able to spread their knowledge northward without the benefit of technology.

And it opens the door for other horticultural organizations to profit from the OBGA’s experience. Perhaps potato growers, grape and tender fruit producers, and fresh veggie farmers could learn more from producers and researchers based in other growing regions around Canada, North America, maybe even the world, without the expense of time and travel.

The Canadian Farm Business Management Council started utilizing similar technology through its agriwebinar service, introduced earlier this year. It allows a farm management expert to be on camera giving a slide presentation to farmers who can tune in over the web without leaving the comfort and convenience of their farm. Farmers can ask questions to the presenter by either typing on their keyboard or using a microphone. The system was developed to work just as well even using slower-speed dial-up connections, even as slow as 20 kbps.

The free Webinars feature experts discussing everything from agritourism to biotechnology. Each presentation is about 30 minutes followed by 20 minutes of live questions and answers.

For more information on CFBMC’s service, visit http://farmcentre.com/english/ agriwebinar/index.htm.