COVID-19 has shaped our lives for the past two months, but it is going to have even much further reach once the thought of contracting this horrible virus has receded into history.

The privations that have been forced upon everyone – farmers included – have meant that there have been major re-evaluations going on for many in their home life and in their business life. It is a given, now, that much will change for good.

We have home delivery of just about every service increasing exponentially and while this may slow down, it is now an accepted norm, even for those who did not avail themselves of it prior to lockdown.

As we read in this week’s issue, it will also have a profound effect on the future learning processes of agricultural students (see SRUC chief executive, Professor Wayne Powell’s view on page 7). The vision of new ways of learning, new ways of working will be delivered in a process that was in planning, but which has been accelerated greatly by the current pandemic and its restrictions.

Like SRUC, the delivery of everything from parts to agronomy advice will be increasingly delivered remotely. We are all heading into a whole new phase of learning, not just for students, but for everyone.

But that headlong rush to use technology should be tempered by the fact that agriculture remains, by its very nature, quite a lonely function, driven by geography and a much reduced labour requirement brought on by previous technological improvements.

While online sales of livestock have managed to move stock from A to B, there is no real replacement for seeing animals live and from all angles. While the web-based platforms may remains for some form of sales, it is to be hoped that the ‘other’ role of auction marts and shows, as a meeting place of like-minded people, will be maintained. There’s nothing like the craic – and we are all missing it. There is no online version that comes close to that.

For the danger is that a lack of contact will have a profound impact on what is already an industry afflicted by poor mental health. More than once it has been stated within our own ‘Mind Your Health’ column that sufferers have been helped on their way to better health by friends, neighbours and those who visit them for business.

The need for a human element is vital to ensure that the mental health of the farming nation has a watchtower looking over it with the ability to spot mental health issues before they become overpowering.

This has been a harrowing time for everyone. It has impacted on everyone’s mental health – whether they/you have realised it or not – so we all need to be vigilant. Everything is looking pretty awesome weather wise at the moment, but before long it could be the dark days of winter again and nothing to lift the spirits. And that’s the danger time.