ACDC News – Issue 08-07

Creating internet field days . A farmer-driven agricultural organization in Victoria, Australia, is using the internet to keep farm business members posted on progress in crop trials throughout a growing season. An article we added recently explains how the Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) uses “Virtual Agronomy” as a supplement to field days, technical fax bulletins, newsletters and a manual of trial results.

For example, during a recent crop season farmers could monitor progress in a variety trial of canola, monola and crambe. They received written information, along with photographs, video footage and/or audio recordings. So at various stages they could see what crambe looks like, view images of canola and crambe at flowering stages, and observe how crambe produced only one seed per pod.

Title: Internet field days: helping farmers to make better decisions

Visit the BCG web site at

A 20-year review – U. S. news media coverage of biotechnology. We are pleased to add to the ACDC collection a speech on this subject by Jim Webster, president of Webster Communications, Washington, D.C. He spoke on January 16 at a Farm Foundation conference that focused on the second decade of crop biotechnology.

In his experience, the mainstream U. S. news media have done a reasonably fair job of covering the progress of crop biotechnology. He described several factors that have led him to that conclusion. In addition, he identified topics to which he believes media have not given adequate attention. Among them:

  • The question of “whether we have the regulatory scheme right.”
  • Long-term effect on the wheat industry of the “collective split decision” to resist biotech wheat.
  • Environmental and safety impacts of plant biotechnology.

Title: Crop biotechnology going forward: a news media perspective

Does the song remain the same across the years? That question came to the minds of some retired U. S. communicators when they were invited to consider speaking at a conference of ACE (Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences). They wondered:

  • How valuable today is the wisdom they gained through their experience?
  • “From 16 mm film through Beta and 3/4 tape to the digital age,” have technologies and processes changed so greatly that insights of earlier years now hold little value?
  • Or is there a core of enduring professional insight and wisdom that communicators can share? As one communicator put it, “Does the song remain the same?”

Please pass along your thoughts. Send them to us at

Forty-plus years of change in agricultural communications . We appreciate receiving a radio interview aired during January on the “Georgetown University Forum” in Washington, D.C. It featured more than 40 years of transition in agricultural communications in the U.S. through the career experiences of Larry Quinn, Assistant Director, Office of Communications, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

He described some of the information technologies he has seen and used, beginning with rural telephone service to their Oklahoma farm home during the 1940s. Looking back, he noted, those “party lines” provided his first experience with teleconferencing. His career took him into rural programming via radio, television, motion pictures, satellite live television, video webcasting and beyond.  Communications doesn’t stay still very long, he observed, and he identified several trends and future directions. Check with us if you are interested in this half-hour interview, which is archived in CD format.

Title: Communications in transition

“How thorough is communication in your projects?” Geoff Thompson asked that question of agricultural development associates in a recent article we added to the ACDC collection. He is with the Centre for Alleviation of Poverty through Secondary Crops Development in Asia and Pacific (CAPSA), a United Nations subsidiary. His article addressed the vital role of effective communications in the success of agricultural and rural development programs.

Title: Key issues in research communication

Posted at:

“Not very thorough” seems to be the disappointing international answer to his question . A background paper for the World Congress on Communication for Development (October 2006) put it this way:

“Despite increasing recognition of the central role that communication plays in promoting agricultural and rural development … national and local rural development plans hardly include communication components and there are limited examples of communication for development services to improve living standards in rural areas.”

This may sound sadly familiar if you are a veteran of communicating about – and within -agricultural and rural development programs of any kind. Thousands of documents within the ACDC collection testify to this challenge. Please let us know ( ) if you would like to see examples – or can provide examples.

Title: World congress on communication for development

Posted at: > page 8

Dirty laundry is helping promote cotton . The cotton industry is using a mobile marketing event – “Cotton’s Dirty Laundry Tour” – to attract a new generation of young consumers to cotton.  An article in Southeast Farm Press called attention to the purpose and approach of this “experiential marketing” effort. Last year Cotton Incorporated visited 11 college campuses to involve students in interactive educational games and activities. Among them: cotton origami, denim fit guide, color sort game, cotton fabric trends and a denim drive.

Title: “Dirty Laundry” college tour aims at creating cotton loyalty

Further information about the activity is posted at:

Communicator activities approaching

April 27-May 1, 2008
“In the pines.” Annual National Extension Technology Conference (NETC) at the Raleigh-Durham/Research Triangle Embassy Suites in Cary, North Carolina.
June 10-13, 2008
“Talk to the hand.” ACE ’08 conference of the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences, in Traverse City, Michigan. Information:
June 19-21, 2008
“Break from the gate in 2008.” Seminar of American Horse Publications in Saratoga Springs, New York.
June 21-24, 2008
“Hook, line and sinker: restock your communications tacklebox.” Institute of the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) in Portland, Maine.

We close with a theological question of the day . It came to light in this recent headline in a farm periodical:

“Horses’ prayers answered by Kentucky rescue farm”

The article described activities of a charitable organization that takes in unwanted or neglected horses, nurses them back to health and finds new homes for them. At a deeper level, does the headline invite thought about a matter that may hold special interest for agricultural communicators – the communications patterns and prayer life of horses?

Best regards and good searching . Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas for the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents we might add to this unique collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Com Documentation Center, 510 LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to .

When you see interesting items you cannot find locally or online , get in touch with us. We will help you gain access.