ACDC News – Issue 13-12

Welcome to ACDC News

If you are receiving this e-newsletter for the first time, it’s a resource for professionals, teachers, students, researchers, and others interested in communications related to agriculture, food, natural resources, rural development, and related topics. Timely news? Yes, but more than that. It explores media, methods, issues, and trends from around the world, and may stir your thinking and creativity. In each issue you will see a sample of information coming into the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, an open resource and service based at the University of Illinois, USA. Nearly 39,000 documents reflect journalism and communications about agriculture in more than 170 countries. We hope you both enjoy and find value in reading ACDC News.

Remembering “real life” in the digital marketplace

“More than 90 percent of the conversations about products, services, and brands that take place every day in America happen offline,” report Ed Keller and Brad Fay in The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace (Free Press, 2012). “Social media is big and growing,” they explained, “but it is still dwarfed by the analog world in which people live and interact.”

They cited research and case studies (including about a half dozen in the food sector) which prompted them to suggest:

  • Face-to-face communication has far greater impact, in terms of perceived credibility and likelihood to take action, than just reading something online.
  • The fact that advertising and other forms of marketing spark so much word of mouth means that the right type of campaign, with significant reach, can unleash a huge number of offline conversations, making the question of scale a nonissue.
  • Most people on Facebook keep in a close contact with only about four people per week.
  • The greatest impact is created by people’s close personal connections, not the far wider number of loose connections.
  • Imagining a “new social marketing” involves sparking conversations (by any channel)—a critical success factor for all marketing.

You can read a review of the book on the Forbes website at:

Why “there’s been very little adoption of variable rate technology.”

Agricultural economist David Bullock says it’s because many grain farmers started to say, “That’s a pretty yield map. But how does it make me money?” Without full information, site-specific management is a financial loser, according to Bullock. Speaking in June at a symposium of the International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium in Seville, Spain, he reported that for many crops and applications, precision technology has not been profitable because of lack of full information. He reported results of an on-farm agronomic experiment using precision agriculture technology

Possible good news? Findings suggest that variable rate technology “can cheaply provide the information needed by VRT to be profitable.”

You can view this presentation at:

My best advice for our next 100 years

Elizabeth Gregory North shared some key perspectives on June 14 when she received the 2013 Professional Award, highest recognition given by the Association of Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) to one of its members. Her advice, offered during the Centennial Conference, included these insights:

  • Successful communication is now and always has been focused on the audience.
  • Successful communicating cannot be purely tactical. It must be grounded in research, guided by strategy, and integrated across media.
  • The point of communications is not the coolest or latest technology. It is about building relations between people and organizations.
  • We are never as good working alone as we are when we work together.

Elizabeth is the department head of the Office of Agricultural Communications with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. She is a 20-year professional in communications and marketing with Extension and land-grant institutions. Among her contributions, she was cited for her work with the National Extension Branding Initiative. You can read her remarks here .

Evidence from Asia about mobile phones for rural learning and development

A journal article added recently to the ACDC collection summarizes results of learning-by-mobile (mLearning) projects in six developing countries of Asia. Researchers observed “important evidence of mobile phones facilitating increased access to education,” but much less evidence about how mobiles promote new learning. Findings were mixed regarding the extent to which mLearning promotes new learning. Among the barriers observed:

  • Technical issues such as screen size and quality of hardware
  • Quality of the software
  • Language barriers
  • Lack of familiarity with advanced smartphone functions
  • Cost; “mLearning is not always least expensive for the individual learner, as mLearning literature might suggest, perhaps due to the fact that most of the mLearning literature addresses the developed world.”

You can read this article in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning at:

Developing a scale to measure superstition in rural areas

You can get some guidelines in a Journal of Social Sciences article we added recently to the ACDC collection. Researchers M. M. Huque and A. H. Chowdhury constructed a 20-item scale to measure superstition among maize farmers in Bangladesh. It showed discriminatory power and proved reliable and dependable. They suggested it may have bearing in other countries whose social systems and level of development are satisfactorily comparable.

You can read “A scale to measure superstition” at: > Search on title

Integrating local and scientific agricultural knowledge

We recently added to the ACDC collection a study that examined how information flows locally about horticultural practices—vertically across generations of growers and horizontally among growers and with change agents such as extension workers. It identified approaches and perspectives that may find applications beyond Argentina, where the study was based.

“This could enable greater integration between local and scientific knowledge, allowing for cultural and biological diversity,” the researchers concluded. “For this purpose, it would also be necessary to create new mechanisms of communication between locals and western institutions tending to facilitate better comprehension and self-respect.”

You can read this article in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine at:

Communicator activities approaching

  • August 3-7, 2013
    “Just wing it!” Agricultural Media Summit sponsored by the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), Livestock Publications Council (LPC) and the Agri Council of American Business Media in Buffalo, New York. Also hosts the annual conference of the student organization, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT). Information:
  • August 26-28, 2013
    “Transformative change: chosen or unchosen—pathways to innovation, resilience and prosperity.” International conference of the Australasian-Pacific Extension Network (APEN) in Christchurch, New Zealand. Information:
  • September 1-5, 2013
    Annual Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) in Buenos Aires and Rosario, Argentina. Information:
  • September 18-20, 2013
    Annual conference of the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ) in Park City, Utah. Information:
  • October 4-6, 2013
    “Big agriculture in a small setting.” Annual conference of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF) at Harrison Hot Springs Resort in British Columbia. Information:

Honoring a worst agricultural novel

We close this issue of ACDC News with a tip of the hat to an agricultural novel recognized in the latest Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. This annual competition, sponsored by the English Department of San Jose State University, challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. We note with interest that the winner of the Science Fiction category featured gardening.

“As I gardened, gazing towards the autumnal sky, I longed to run my finger through the trail of mucus left by a single speckled slug—innocuously thrusting past my rhododendrons—and in feeling that warm slime, be swept back to planet Alderon, back into the tentacles of the alien who loved me.” Mary E. Patrick, Lake City, South Carolina.

You can read all the 2012 winners, runners-up and dishonorable mentions at:

Best wishes and good searching.

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @ACDCUIUC . And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents we might add to this unique collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Comm Documentation Center, Room 510, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to