Digital CropTec Show proves a hit despite Covid-19 challenges

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CropTec’s first digital show saw a large audience of farmers and agronomists rewarded with a wide array of agricultural innovation and expertise, in spite of the challenges presented by Covid-19.

More than 40 exhibitors joined the show, which transitioned from face-to-face to a digital event, providing a fascinating mix of new technology, crop science and services.

The acclaimed CropTec seminar programme and a comprehensive line-up of Knowledge Hubs also pulled traction, providing key technical messages and featuring industry leaders discussing what is on the horizon for the cereals sector in a new era of challenges.

Elisabeth Mork-Eidem, group events director at AgriBriefing, which owns The CropTec Show said: “We are delighted that we were able to deliver a digital CropTec show in what has been a very different and difficult year. Being able to still deliver high quality content and access to our exhibitors and all the products and services they provide, has been very welcomed by the arable community. 

“None of this would be possible, however, without the support from our exhibitors, visitors and those who contributed to the seminars and Knowledge Hubs. We are very grateful to all of them and cannot wait to be able to meet in person again at Peterborough Arena next year.”

ADAMA joined the show as this year’s digital sponsor, Mel Wardle, ADAMA product manager, said: “With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic causing the cancellation of the majority of industry events and making face-to-face meetings with farmers and agronomists all but impossible, the online CropTec show was a good opportunity for ADAMA to share its 2021 crop protection message.”

Endeavouring to provide visitors with the latest developments across the industry, CropTec’s seminar programme saw leading specialists offer insight into crop nutrition, policy and crop protection.

Yara’s strategic marketing and PR manager Eva Ross said: “We were delighted to sponsor this year’s crop nutrition seminar at CropTec 2020, which allowed us to share our green ammonia story and interact with specialists, as well as engaging with visitors on our virtual stand.”

From post-Brexit trade deals to an evolving era of crop protection, CropTec’s stellar line up of speakers combined technical knowledge with practical takeaway messages for the cereals sector.

Abi Kay, Farmers Guardian chief reporter and session chair for this year’s policy session, said: “Our fantastic set of panellists offered real insight into how the arable sector will fare under new trading arrangements, whether carbon taxes at the border are feasible, if farmers are prepared to meet the net zero emissions challenge and how they can manage their volatility without direct payments.

“Visitors also seemed thoroughly engaged by Gavin Ross, Defra’s deputy Environmental Land Management director, who was able to give farmers a real sense of where the post-Brexit scheme is headed and what they can expect during the agricultural transition.”

Tony Powell, a virtual attendee and freelance contractor specialising in bird monitoring projects with the farming and gamekeeper sectors, echoed this.

He said: “I found the policy discussions most helpful and learned a great deal from the experience.”

The seminars were complemented by the specialist Knowledge Hubs sponsored by Horsch, YEN and UPL, which delivered a diverse range of topics, from the latest in sustainable soil health practices, with a focus on regenerative farming and carbon storage for profitability, to the use of bio control products to reduce chemical inputs on-farm.

Pointing to the event’s success in providing a platform for sharing technical details about new product launches in the Biocontrol Hub, UPL marketing manager Roy Robinson said: “We have had several inquiries about the products and potentially made some industry contacts to follow up with after the event.

“Aa an exhibitor it is easier to count and track online views and interactions than at a physical event and hopefully visitors found the bite sized chunks of information easy to digest.”

Describing the show as ‘small but perfectly formed’, Isabel Farguharson-Howell, sales director at EPM Digital, commended the event and said: “Virtual trade shows do not have to look like trade shows. CropTec proves the point.”

Many exhibitors chose CropTec to launch new or improved products or to highlight latest research in this year’s virtual exhibition hall.

Here is a taster of what was on offer.

With the recent reduction in winter oilseed rape area, Premium Crops joined with Farmers Guardian, a CropTec sister brand, to undertake a survey on which crops farmers were looking to replace this break crop. The results found that 40 per cent of respondents were considering winter linseed and two-thirds were considering it as a spring break crop.

Advances in data-led farm management was a key theme. Xarvio showcased Field Manager, which had already amassed 1,100 new users. Designed as a web and smartphone-based tool that assists on-farm decision making, it provides field-specific agronomic insights to growers and agronomists including crop growth forecasting, disease and pest risk alerts, Leaf Area Index biomass imagery and variable input maps for seed, nutrition and crop protection.

UK agri-tech centre CHAP launched a new digital service designed to help growers and agronomists predict the likelihood of pest and disease outbreaks. A collaboration between CHAP and Fera, CropMonitor Pro uses real-time weather and environmental data, established predicted crop growth patterns and sophisticated pest/pathogen and disease modelling tools to generate a risk forecast at a regional and local level.

Hummingbird Technologies has been working to give growers more autonomy when using its platform by allowing growers to define their growing season per farm. The crop management section allows management of crops and varieties in each field.

With the weather becoming increasingly volatile, ProData used the CropTec event to showcase its range of Davis EnviroMonitor weather stations.

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