Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Clubhectare farmers - the power of social media









Anyone actively using Twitter and its hashtags in British farming is likely to have come across #clubhectare. What started as an idea amongst a group of 14 farmers 18 or so months ago, now has 300+ members.

In its brief life, #clubhectare has developed into many things - a discussion forum, a technical agronomic exchange and a social club which - once virtual - has now started to meet in person for beer, chat and merriment.

This morning I spoke to Jono Dixon - aka @sunkfarmer - one of the founders and have decided to spend £19 to join #clubhectare's inner sanctum and to receive my personalised rugby shirt (now including a ladies' fit version - thanks boys ;-))

What #clubhectare has done, using Twitter's limited 140-letter messaging functionality, is pretty amazing.

In what has been two hellish seasons for all farmers, this social media club has prevented Jono and his fellow-farmers from "going barmy". Members and followers have shared woes, views, ideas and extended support for one-another.

The topics they have discussed are extensive in including agronomy, bTB, machinery and the weather (of course!).

They have also been helping one another and extending that assistance to youngsters looking to start their career in farming. Using Twitter alone @sunkfarmer and three others used their Twitter network to help a youngster find two farm placements and a place at Reaseheath college.

"We've seen students and young people using the #clubhectare hashtag to find placements and jobs for things like lambing and harvesting - and we try to help them."

I left Jono this morning charging up his combine battery for the harvester's annual service tomorrow - after having had an interesting chat with him about his new dual-fit RTK for his Bateman sprayer and tractor. Jono reckons the payback on the investment will be in 4-5 years from input cost savings.

Thanks @sunkfarmer and #clubhectare.

In return, can I ask you to start following @GAJinfo and @IFAJ2014 to support the fantastic journalists and communicators in British agriculture - they are a hidden, but very important part of our industry - just as you farmers are.

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