What has delivering the Level 2 Agriculture Business Operations ICT module taught me?
Operations ICT module taught me?
The Level 2 Agricultural Business Operations programme is now well under way. Those of you who have completed the ICT (Information Communication Technology) module will have heard about the business benefits of having an effective ICT solution on you farm. To date the IT team at CAFRE has delivered the ICT module to almost 900 farmers. This has brought a number of issues to my attention, some good others not so good.
Broadband for all
The good news is that the broadband availability position has improved. Many services are now available online and a good quality broadband connection will ensure the farm business can access services such as APHIS Online and eSAF (Single Application Form). Most farmers receive broadband via their telephone line and those who can’t have the options of WiMax or Satellite broadband. More information is available about broadband options at: HYPERLINK “http://www.detini.gov.uk/deti-telecoms-index.htm” http://www.detini.gov.uk/deti-telecoms-index.htm
Keep your kit up to date and keep your data safe
Advantages of being online include better access to information, simpler transactions and better communication. Many farmers still don’t protect their data and equipment. Key points to act on are:
Install a security application and keep it up to date.
Make sure your operating system and internet browser is up to date. Windows XP and Internet Explorer 8 are no longer supported by Microsoft and are therefore not secure.
Keep regular backups of all your data and keep the backup in a safe place away from your computer.
In addition to keeping your data safer, using the most up to date software means you can use all the online services available from DARD. Some services, such as online maps, will not work without data internet browsers (IE8+ only). The Online Services help team (028 9442 6699 or HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”email@example.com) have solved many DARD online users problems by asking them to update their software. Browser updates are free and normally prompted by your computer, don’t ignore them!
Make the most of your home network
During delivery of the ICT module, the home network section of the course has generated the most discussion, especially the extension of the network around the house and out into the farmyard and farm buildings.
Homeplugs are a popular choice. These allow you to get the internet and other network information from your house to your farm office or farm buildings. Easy installation (just plug one into an electrical socket beside the router and the other plugs into a socket in the farm building), and low cost means that Homeplugs are a great solution for many users. The only requirement is that your farmyard and house are on the same electrical circuit.
DARD Online Services – a ‘must have’ for all farmers
A CAFRE ICT module would not be complete without talking about DARD Online Services. Many of the students are already using some of the services but the course has highlighted many new features and transactions.
Most calves are now registered using APHIS Online, but many students weren’t using the APHIS animal movement option which allows them to confirm moves in, without having to send a stickered MC2 back to DARD. Farmers selling animals can also print their own MC2 documents to bring to the market or abattoir.
The online mapping system got a recent overhaul resulting in more functionality, including the option to request map changes, without needing to book a meeting with a DARD map editor.
More information available here...
Whether you are enrolled on the Level 2 Agriculture course or not, there are some ICT training materials available to view online at: HYPERLINK “http://www.cafre.ac.uk/level-2” http://www.cafre.ac.uk/level-2. These include videos showing you how to use DARD Online Services and notes about setting up an effective and secure ICT system.