With over 45 years of attending the Fieldays it is time to reflect on the many changes that have taken place. The first shift has been in the demand for professionally presented sites, long gone are the tents and old caravans that were spread across the site with hand written posters to attract punters to the site. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the wafting of the food smells and somewhere to sit, they are still the most popular attractants, somewhat like the pheromone sprays used to attract insects to their death or in this case to empty the wallets of the farmers!!!
There will always be the sales of the big items like tractors and “farm” vehicles together with the major banks selling hospitality to their clients to ensure the loyalty or as an offer to a better deal with more friendly staff and better food.
The innovations continue to present a mix of technology and practical innovations that later become major sales items and worthy of their own displays in years to come.
The changes in the rural business are seen at the Fieldays and while they might not be dramatic in any one year it is possible to put a measure stick over a five year period and observe some of the shifts. I have seen an increasing trend towards technology supporting the rural sector with accountancy, compliance support and political agendas to the fore, while the need for visit by the many agencies is diminishing. Stock sales and pasture covers can all be done online and the use of “Cloud” based accounting systems now minimise the time involved and the paper used. It seems that only a few years ago that GPS mapping and on-farm support services with local reps were important with these activities now being relegated to a phone app or something in the “Cloud”. So will there be more leisure time for farmers or will they require more systems that will minimise the staffing requirements??
The stand-outs are often visual and seeing an old David Brown Cropmaster tractor parked next to the wheel of a large modern Case tractor epitomises the shift in the size of the equipment, while the Valais Black Nosed sheep showed how a breed near extinction can be revived. Personal well-being sites encouraging, mostly men, to be proactive with health matters that are not often talked about in public are also becoming common and important. So where to next, who knows as technology is moving rapidly and the rural sector is embracing the technology that releases time for the farmer and reduces the reliance on staff.
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