Best of the [A] List: Ten top picks from the Internet
In July, as part of a major redesign, Agriculture.com initiated a new feature, the [A] List of best agricultural features on the Internet. The section, housed on the home page and organized by categories on the website, is based on the idea that farmers and other agriculturalists are busy people and will appreciate guidance in finding useful and entertaining information.
The [A] List includes websites, blogs, social media postings, user comments and other Internet-based content developed by agribusinesses, agricultural media, and farmers.
More than a hundred selections from sources outside of Agriculture.com were cited in the first six months of the existence of the service.
“All the links on the [A] List are considered top drawer,” says Successful Farming and Agriculture.com Editor-in-Chief Loren Kruse. “But our staff also felt there are some features that deserve to be short listed.”
Below are the ten top [A] List picks for 2010, selected by the editors of Agriculture.com. Have your own nomination for a top Internet feature? E-mail us.
Chat 'n Chew Café
Bob Neilsen, “Your friendly neighborhood Extension corn specialist,” continues to maintain one of the oldest and most useful resources for crop production info on the Web. He also invites interactivity, saying comments, “are gladly received, always read and frequently acted upon.” While at the cafe, it’s worth taking a look at the related site, another Internet original, King Corn: The Corn Grower’s Guidebook.
Go to: Chat 'n Chew Cafe
Observations in Agriculture
Dave Rahe, an Illinois-based crop consultant, keeps regular tabs on a wide range of issues, including plant diseases, precision ag, soil conservation, and all the sights you see when driving the back roads. His comments are brief, well informed, and practical.
Go to: Observations in Agriculture
BASF Plant Health Training Module
BASF presents an online learning and product promotion experience with a sophisticated digital approach to a cutting edge agronomic topic—innovative uses of fungicides to control plant disease. The multimedia presentation centers on the user’s geography, and includes grower testimonials and highlights of BASF fungicide research.
Will Gilmer on YouTube
Alabama dairy producer Will Gilmer has developed a number of quirky videos about farm life, including a piece called "Water 'n Poo”…a song about nutrient management.” He improvised the tune from his tractor cab, spinning lyrics that are not only funny, but, oddly enough, also grassroots testimonials to the way farmers wisely manage resources.
Go to: Will Gilmer on YouTube
Voices Across the Plains
A handsome user interface showcases a mix of video, blogs, audio and articles about wheat production from the Palouse to the High Plains. Created by Syngenta, the site expertly meshes wheat product information with practical grower experience to talk about new technologies of all types.
Go to: Voices Across the Plains
Janice Person, a Monsanto public affairs specialist, demonstrates exemplary use of social media, balancing professional and personal use of its various forms. Her personal blog is an entertaining mix of reporting, commentary, photography and interactivity. Highlights include a tribute to cotton farming (her specialty) and a good list of farm blogs she likes. Person’s work on Twitter, too, is a model for how to use social media: She provides useful news and tips and regularly interacts with her followers.
Colby Hunt on Twitter
This Illinois farmer broke some new ground in grassroots communication this fall with his use of Twitter to provide reports from the combine cab. While a growing number of farmers use Twitter to talk about life on the farm, Hunt uses photography along with his tweets to focus on daily farm work, drawing a vivid picture of how production agriculture actually works.
Go to: Colby Hunt on Twitter
Ohio Ag Manager
Ohio State Extension has created a comprehensive collection of farm business articles in a contemporary design. Topics include estate planning, farm policy, farm rents, tax management, legal issues, and more. While some articles are slanted to Ohio producers, many have broad appeal. The site is easy to navigate and organized for social media interaction.
Go to: Ohio Ag Manager
While Pioneer’s redesign gives considerable space to widely available weather, markets, and news, it also makes its own products and services more visible and localized in an extremely elegant interface.
The revamped website features expanded content for livestock feed and nutrition, an agronomy library, and an upgraded product performance section.
Go to: Pioneer.com
From the parlor pit
Northern Iowa farmer J.R. Bordick happens to use the Agriculture.com Marketing Talk forum for his musings, and in a way has claimed the forum as his own social media platform, regularly holding forth on a range of topics—grain and dairy prices, daily challenges on the farm, federal farm policy, family life and more.
Go to: From the parlor pit