Conference touts computers as useful agribusiness tools

Friday, January 5, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:09 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Computers are everywhere — and, more and more, they can be found down on the farm.

Since 1980, people interested in farm computer applications have gathered at mid-Missouri’s annual Computers on the Farm Conference to catch up with the latest technology. This year’s conference begins at noon today at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach. The event is sponsored by the MU Extension Commercial Agriculture Program and the Agricultural Electronic Bulletin Board.

The yearly two-day conference provides a platform for beginner and experienced farm computer users to share experience and knowledge about computer applications in farm operations.

Farmer and software developer Mark Wilsdorf of Madison said computers were more for general record-keeping in the early 1980s. However, with the Internet boom, the purpose of the computer shifted from generating information to acquiring information. For example, cows can now be tagged with ID chains that show which cows are eating and how much they have eaten.

“With the USDA market records online, I can look up and compare cow price in south and north Missouri,” Wilsdorf said. “Same for grain price. I don’t have to phone somebody to get the price now.”

Topics of this year’s conference include farm financial software, Web site development, wireless networks for farms, online Geographic Information System tools and software for beef production and crops.

Participants can also take part in hands-on sessions in robotics, audio and video editing and educational software and an interactive game called Cow-Tipping that teaches agribusiness management.

John Travlos, coordinator of the conference, said 80 to 120 people go to the conference each year. This year, organizers hope to attract more family members and students, he said.

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