AUSTRALIA'S livestock industry certainly has its finger in the podcast pie, with every man and his dog lining up to have a crack at running off an episode or two.
From beef studs to processors, consultants, farmer groups, market insight providers and the big industry organisations, podcasts targeting those on the land and the supply chains they operate in have been launched on a regular basis this year.
This week alone, one could tune in to a discussion of why methane emission calculations are off the mark, then jump over to talk of the red meat retail dollar received by producers before being fully informed about the COVID impacts to the global beef trade or objective carcase measurement technology.
Advisory firm Deliotte predicts the global podcasting market will increase by 30 per cent to reach US$1.1 billion in 2020, and says the Australian podcasting market will grow faster than the rest of the world, with annual revenue expected to reach almost $50 million by the end of the year.
No one appears to have researched the growth of agriculture podcasts specifically but digital and rural media experts say anecdotal evidence suggests farmers are a major growth category.
Associate Professor of Communication at Deakin University Dr Kristy Hess said the podcast format suited the man or woman on the land in a unique way.
"Podcasts present information in a conversational-style format, something that resonates with rural people, but it is also the fact they can be downloaded and listened to at any time that makes them so well suited to the ag space," she said.
Whether it's on the tractor, the drive to town, while fixing machinery in the shed or checking the fences, there are plenty of listening opportunities on a farm and a podcast means no one has to be back at home at any certain time to catch an episode.
Dr Hess said the shift towards podcasts had been gathering speed in general in recent years, as people become more comfortable with digital technology, but COVID had amplified the trend.
Digital marketing agency Brandastic says podcasts allow for multitasking, and that is underpinning their popularity. Time does not have to be set aside to consume a podcast.
Monetizing podcasts, however, is another story. Deliotte says podcasts barely make enough money today to rate a slot on the media formats list.
There are few barriers to making them and the majority are offered free. Charging listeners on a broad scale is unlikely in the near future. Sponsorships and advertising, even though podcasts typically are able to reach very targeted audiences of engaged listeners, are not reaping in the dollars.
Dr Hess believes the attraction for those making ag podcasts is not so much the opportunity to promote their product, nor make money, but rather a genuine desire to share information and 'have a voice.'
"Ag is typically not considered a sexy topic in mainstream media and that is why we are seeing more niche types of media opening up for rural audiences - they are giving these audiences a voice," she said.
A positive outcome could be podcasts serving as an indicator to wider media about the type of content rural audiences want to engage with, she said.
Other media picking up what is being talked about and further pursuing topics would be a success, she said.
Big beef genetics business Te Mania Angus is the latest to take to the airwaves, launching a podcast series called RawAg last week.
Hosted by Te Mania director Tom Gubbins, a fifth generation farmer, the show will feature industry personalities and leaders.
Mr Gubbins said the aim was to use the podcast 'as a platform to regenerate the perception of the agricultural industry and community in an honest and passionate manner.'
"There is a growing divide between rural and regional Australia that needs to be addressed and farmers need to tell their stories - how they are involved in the environment and care for their animals," he said.
"Research is complicated in agriculture. Farmers have so many variables in their lives, so when science comes up with new theories or methods, farmers can be conservative in their approach to taking them on, which is completely understandable.
"A podcast can explain the reason why the science works and drill down into the practical applications of it."
Mr Gubbins said a mistake he had made was spending too much time in the business rather than on it.
"Time spent working out new methods and ways is worth tens of thousands an hour," he said.
"We can all be better farmers - sustainable, regenerative, and innovative - and we can all be more informed and aware consumers."
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