The Virtual Fieldays and what it means for the industry

The Virtual Fieldays and what it means for the industry

It’s been a little while since I sent one of these out, but the last 6 months have given me a lot to think about so I thought I’d put pen to paper.

As always, you can unsubscribe at any time from the link down below (I won’t be offended).

You see, there’s been nothing normal about this year.

COVID-19 has put a lot of people in a tight spot. Some industries that are doing well because of this, but there are a lot more that are losing business.

Agriculture is no exception. There have been some massive changes in our industry because of the situation.

What happened with the recent Mystery Creek Fieldays is a perfect example. That’s what I want to talk about today.

What the Fieldays looked like this year.

The Fieldays are usually held in Mystery Creek. This event is the biggest agricultural event in the southern hemisphere. It usually attracts well over 100,000 visitors, more than 1000 exhibitions, and generates hundreds of millions of dollars.

In 2019 the Fieldays generated $549 million in sales, and about 187 million of that went into the local Waikato economy.

But this year, things were different. Because of COVID-19, the main in person event got cancelled and was replaced with a digital version.

It operated as a multimedia digital marketplace. Exhibitors could still showcase products and technology, interact with customers, make sales, and take details. It happened all online.

From what I saw, 68% of the Exhibitors said that they were going to make the switch to the new digital format. Only about 32% planned to pull out completely and get some form of refund.  

Now I reckon that considering everything that is going on, the Fieldays did pretty good with the hand they had been dealt.

Conversely, they could have cancelled the event altogether and had no online alternative. But they took the hit from COVID-19 and did the best they could given the circumstances.

Of course, having it in person would be preferred. You can’t replace the networking, the conversations and the atmosphere that goes on at this event. I’m sure most of you have been at least once, if not most years.

The digital Fieldays also didn’t make as much money and had less exhibitions than normal. It’d be easy to say that the sooner we can go back to the way things are, the better.

But there’s important lessons we need to learn from all of this.

Since it was a digital event, it meant that people all around the world who might not have come to the physical event, were able to attend. It really opened the Fieldays up to the world in the way the regular event couldn’t.

For the first time ever, you could turn on your laptop or your phone and have access to the entire event. All the new products, the new technology, all the offers… and you didn’t have to even start the ute.

This meant that New Zealand brands got exposure on a global scale. Industry leaders and business owners from all around the world could participate in the event and didn’t have to even be in the country. This is an advantage of the digital Fieldays I don’t see enough people talking about.  

The Agriculture Industry often lags behind when it comes to innovative new changes in technology (outside of farming equipment and techniques.) A lot of us grew up with the mindset that "what’s good enough for Dad is good enough for me."

But that mindset doesn’t really cut it in today’s world.

Fact is, things are changing, and either we can adapt and change with the global trends, or we can be stubborn and wait until we have to change.

How does this relate to the Fieldays?

I’m not saying that the Fieldays should become an exclusively digital event or anything like that. All I am saying is that we have to be open to new ways of doing things.

This event was "the best of a bad situation," but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it and profit from it. There’s room in our industry to take more advantage of the technology that’s already out there. The digital Fieldays can serve as a bit of a roadmap for what is possible.

At Onefarm, we know the power of harnessing new technologies can be the difference between an okay, good or great season on the farm.

For us, simply giving you the option to buy gates and supplies online (and passing on savings), can have a big impact on your bottom line. New Zealand businesses just like ours are innovating to make your life easier (and more cost effective) and that’s something we can get on board with.

Comment below.