New Media Tracker 2016

75% of German farmers are online daily - more than one might expect

The internet has developed itself into a universal platform for almost all areas capable of accommodating a multitude of sectors including agriculture. Tablets are used to control tractors and harvesters, herd management and breeding are undertaken with the help of apps, social media will be used for new strategic developments and agricultural machines are ordered online.

The results of the New Media Tracker show, that nowadays 95% of farmers use the internet. Since the first survey in 2013, the internet usage increased by 8% among German farmers. On the other hand, only 80% of the total population in Germany make use of the internet.¹

In addition, the daily internet usage of the farmer grows. In 2013, only half of the internet users in the agricultural sector were online daily, while in 2016 the number grew to three quarters. The main reasons for farmers to use the internet every day are e-mail accounts, search engines and messaging others.

Most of the farmers go online with their PC. The farmers use of smartphones to surf on the internet has increased significantly between 2013 (20%) and 2015 (45%). Next to the smartphone, tablets are on advance in the agricultural sector. Here the internet usage increased from 8% (2013) to 25% (2015). While the average farmer uses the tablet mainly to surf and to write emails, the smartphone is mainly used to take pictures, texts and make telephone calls.

Figure 1: Devices used to go online

Farmers interviewed 2013: n = 696; Farmers interviewed 2015: n = 784, mutliple response possible

Figure 2: Apps for professional usage
Farmers who use apps, in 2015: n = 305, single response
Farmers who use apps for professional usage: n = 249, multiple response possible

About half of the farmers, who have a smartphone or tablet, use apps. The vast majority of them uses apps for professional purposes. Information and news are ranked first, followed by pest- weed controls and market data. 

A few farmers share their professional experience in social media, but many farmers search for information in social media.

Looking at the internet users, slightly more than a third of the farmers are registered in social networks. Compared to the total population, farmers use different social media such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Xing, Twitter, Wikipedia and Youtube.

The younger the farmers, the more often they use social media. These are mostly used for private purposes or combined for private as well as for operational reasons. With an age of 35 to 45 years, the operational usage is most pronounced. Farmers search the social media mainly for opinions about products, the exchange of experiences as well as price comparisons. In addition a large part is looking for advice and information about events in social media. However, only a third of the users post or share their own information. In the business sector the amount is even lower. 

Figure 2: Social media usage
Farmers who use the internet in 2015: n = 786, single response

E-commerce reaches the farmers, but not in every agricultural product sector.

The e-commerce is continuing to grow, as the internet is already a recognised and an increasingly relevant channel for purchases.² The results of the New Media Tracker show that a lot of the farmers have already purchased online for private or professional purposes. Only 17% mentioned that they have never purchased online.

When it comes to online shopping, comfort and independence play an important role for the farmers. In addition to the reasons for purchasing online, the non-users also mention reasons against an online purchase. Reasons for German farmers not buying online are trust in local traders and the personal advice given by them.

Figure 2: Online purchases & frequencies
Farmers interviewed in 2015: n = 829, single response
Farmers who buy online: 684, multiple response possible; Farmers who do not buy online: 237, multiple response possible

The sector e-commerce of the New Media Tracker includes, amongst others, the frequencies and reasons for an online business purchase. On average the surveyed farmers purchased 19 times online in the last 12 months. The results show that professional online purchases by German farmers were particularly evident in the sectors machines / spare parts, work clothes, office supplies and tools. Seeds, crop protection products and fertiliser are bought less frequently on the internet, because there are clear reservations due to the lack of personal advice and the legal regulations. 

Figure 2: Business orders
Farmers who buy online: n = 592, multiple response


In conclusion it can be noticed, that the internet is an inherent part of the agricultural sector. Especially the greater acceptance of the internet for professional use shows that farmers benefit a lot from the online presence of agricultural companies. The internet, especially e-commerce, is mainly used for professional purposes. In addition, the results show that the internet usage among farmers is higher than the internet usage of the population. The comparison of the first implemented usage of e-commerce in 2016 with the results of the next New Media Tracker will be very interesting. 



Sonja Gartzke

Junior Project Manager

Kleffmann Group

Background - New Media Tracker

Since 2013, the New Media Tracker study determines the worldwide private and professional internet behaviour of farmers. In addition to the usage of apps, this also includes the areas of social media and recently the aspect of e-commerce.

In the first wave in 2013, the internet usage of Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Brazil and India was recorded.

In the current survey in 2016, 821 German, 501 Argentinian farmers and 500 Ukrainian farmers have been interviewed about their online usage. Further countries will follow. 


1. Cf. Frees, Beate, Koch, Wolfgang: „Ergebnisse der ARD/ZDF-Onlinestudie 2015, Internetnutzung: Frequenz und Vielfalt nehmen in allen Altersgruppen zu“, in: Media Perspektiven 09/2015, p. 367.

2. Cf. Ecommerce Europe: “Central Europe B2C E-commerce Report 2015”, 2015, p. 36.