When computers became part of NZ farming

Lincoln University’s role in making the computer one of the essential tools on the farm

Is told in a new book by Dr Peter Nuthall, an Honorary Associate Professor in Lincoln’s Department of Land Management and Systems.

‘Dare to compute. The early years in the development and uptake of farm computer systems’ is written about the Kellogg Farm Management Unit (KFMU) at Lincoln, which Dr Nuthall founded and was head of for all but two years of its existence, from 1980 to 1995.

The unit was initially funded by the Kellogg Foundation in the United States, a philanthropic fund. KFMU aimed to develop computer software for farm and horticultural property managers, and train them in its use.

Dr Nuthall says the history of the unit needs to be told as it played an important part in introducing computer technology and software to primary producers in New Zealand and Australia. He says its employees “worked very much in the dawning of a new era”.

“They helped explore and forge management based computer technology down on the farm. It took a dedicated staff and pioneering farmers brave enough to go along with our ideas.” Dr Nuthall says today nothing is thought unusual about computers being in every farm and household.

His book holds stories and lessons about introducing something new for those coming up with the ideas and managing them and they should be of interest to anyone, worldwide, interested in farm computing, he says. It is his second book to come out this year.

His novel, ‘The Intuitive Farmer – Inspiring Management Success’, came out in February, and centred on farmers using well-informed intuition when making decisions (5M publishing, ISBN 9781910455135).). The ‘Dare to Compute’ book is available on line at, or by email (ISBN 9780473358341)