We are now round to that time of year when every week there seems to be at least one or two conferences that we can attend to refresh our technical knowledge and catch up with old and make new acquaintances.

When Scottish Agronomy met last February for our agm and conference, we had one of our best turnouts ever. I would like to put this down to the high calibre of speakers we had managed to attract, and, yes, this would have some reflection in the attendance, but if the truth be told it was one of the wettest Februaries I can remember.

We all hoped that the weather would change, but I don’t think any of us quite thought how big a change awaited us in 2020. The weather dried up, though and the crops sown in the spring gave us a better than average harvest.

But that was not the big change we had to adapt to. With the introduction of lockdown, we at Scottish Agronomy had to look at how we continued to serve our members and also how we were still going to get trial results that allow you to make the best decisions possible.

Zoom was still thought to be an ice lolly that we all loved in the 1970s and '80s, but little did we know that this was going to be the technology that kept us in touch with members, conduct board meetings and even hold monthly management meetings.

On the trials side, more vehicles were to respect social distancing and continue with the day-to-day tasks. We even created ‘combining bubbles’ to get the harvest completed.

All this shows that, as an industry, we can quickly adapt and, with it embrace new ways of working. Now, I am not saying that video conferencing will become the norm, as you definitely miss out a lot of the personal connection and banter at the bar, but I do think that there is a place for using this technology – like a member who would love to attend a meeting but needs to keep the de-stoner going.

This is when two pieces of tech come together to prove useful. One, we can set-up a group Zoom meeting, and two you can set-up your satellite guidance so you can still partake in the meeting while operating safely.

With all that new technology, we are still able to go ahead with our agm and conference on Wednesday, February 17 and again we have attracted two high calibre speakers, Dr Keith Dawson [and you can read his views in this week's issue of The Scottish Farmer, out on Friday, February 19, 2021)] and Hampshire farmer, Andrew Osmond.

Keith is a leading scientist and after serving with leading research and development companies in the UK, he turned his energy to developing a major farming operation in Eastern Europe.

This has developed over the years, bringing back 250,000 acres of land into mainstream production using modern technology to improve soils quality, and reduce the reliance of chemical in controlling pests and diseases.

As well as his work in Eastern Europe he has land interest in South America, a stake in a renewable energy company and is chairman of Scottish Society of Crop Research (SSCR).

Andrew farms 2100 acres in Hampshire and a further 280 acres in neighbouring Dorset. The land is a mixture of owned and contract farming. This is an all-arable unit with the owned land used to grow seed crops of winter wheat, winter and spring barley and grass. WOSR and protein peas are grown in the rotation as a clean break.

On the contracted land, he grows milling and biscuit quality wheat, winter and spring barley for feed and malting and WOSR. He brings on 3000 lambs in September each year to graze the grass seed area.

As well as farming, he has been involved with AHDB in both the cereals and oilseed main board and cereals export committee, past chairman of the Commercial Farmers Group and on the steering group of the Beewax Dyson GCI. He is a current member and chair of Wessex NIAB TAG

We are looking forward to hearing the different perspectives of these two very highly respected and interesting speakers. I wonder what kind of year we will be looking back on this time next year.