The dust has settled, the kists have been put away, the livestock might even have returned to grass and machinery back where it was intended – and the livers may be on the right track – but the defining feeling of this year's Highland Show was: "Boy it was great to be back..."

For an industry that could claim to be of Olympic Gold medal-winning standards when it comes to moaning, there wasn't much of it on view last week as Scotland's agricultural and rural industries put themselves on parade. In fact, when showing a 'newbie' what the show was all about, he commented that he had never seen so many 'happy people'.

I suppose that is the mark of success of any event. While there might have been the odd technical glitch, it was great to see such a talismanic event rise again to meet it's potential. That word 'potential' was there for all to see in spades around the showground, from the youngsters propelling themselves on to the show scene, to Young Farmers getting to see what a Highland Show was like for the first time, to the prospects for the lambs, calves and foals that were there. It was great to witness.

It is also plain that the best part of three years in isolation has brought about many changes in attitude, buying habits and indeed challenges for those that live and breathe the agricultural industry. If anything, criticism of things like how the show was run, should be taken as a plus – people care about 'their' event and they don't want to lose their perception of what they had.

Just as the first commercially available robot tractor swept on to the showground, so too is the wind of change sweeping through the many trade stands at the show. Innovation – that word that is at the very centre of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland charter – is arriving faster than anyone could have imagined and, indeed, a scan through the entrants for this year's Innovations Awards will tell you that.

There is nothing like the current hike in input costs to concentrate minds on how to progress forward. As Norman Bagley says on this page, the cost of production is king and until you know that, you are selling blind. Innovative thinking, management and use of technology will all play its role in ensuring that agriculture will meet its potential and that was there for all to see at the 'Heilan'.

Ambitious as the industry is, though, it needs some kind of political direction to allow it to maximise its promise. Like a grand calf that won't thrive because of lack of feed, the industry will not fulfill itself until that happens.

The politicians were there, at the show, of course. But there was little in the way of insight as to how this great industry will be steered as we shake off the post-CAP subsidy blues. Perhaps the best inkling we had this week was the naming of a date for another referendum on the future path for Scotland. If it goes ahead all kinds of carrots will be dangled in front of industry – and agriculture being one of the largest, we should prepare to extract to the max what baubles might be offered ... regardless of what the outcome might be.