South Dakota State Extension Increases Use of Online iGrow Platform to Provide Info to Farmers
September 26, 2011 | Andrew Burger
Facing a reorganization due to budget cuts, South Dakota State University’s (SDSU) Agricultural Extension Service is increasing its use of iGrow, an online information system that SDSU Extension field and research staff use to provide “reliable, ethical and unbiased” information that helps farmers and ranchers with marketing and production decisions.
A free service, iGrow provides farmers with the necessary data and tools to allow them to accomplish the following tasks: keep track of current developments in agriculture related to research and trade; obtain farm-specific agricultural weather forecast; calculate profitability; and get access to libraries of agricultural production and management information. Producers access this information through a secure on-line environment that works across all computer platforms as well as on smart phones and mobile internet devices.
Some 70-80% of farmers and ranchers have a high-speed Internet connection of one form or another, said Dean of SDSU’s College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences and Extension Director Barry Dunn to Rapid City Journal reporter Andrea Cook.
“It’s just amazing how fast the world has adopted” technology, Dunn said. “Does every farmer/rancher use the Internet? No, but the vast majority do.”
State and field extension service specialists will be dedicating 20% of their time to developing Web content for the iGrow system.
iGrow currently provides information on livestock (beef, pork and markets), families, foods and nutrition, agronomy (corn), community development, 4-H and youth and gardens (commercial horticulture and gardening).
Users are able to customize their accounts to meet their own needs. “It’s a very active, dynamic system that people will find enriching,” Dunn was quoted as saying.
Next year, iGrow will be informing winter wheat producers about varieties and seed treatment. SDSU extension field specialists in western South Dakota will supplement that information with updates on soil and climate conditions, Cook writes.