Well, we’ve made it – and who would have thought this year would have turned out the way it has?
2020 has certainly been one I’ve wished away, and with all the pestilence and upset that this year has brought, part of me wondered if we’d make it to December.
I joked at the beginning of the year that I was fed up of writing about Brexit and hoped I’d soon have something else to focus on, and boy, what a case of being careful what you wish for.
This year has brought change greater than we could ever imagine.
From a work perspective, my diary was hit hard, and the permanent “working-from-home” with little to no physical human interaction was difficult, and something I definitely struggled with mentally at the peak of the pandemic.
Across industry, we’ve seen what should have been thriving showgrounds lying empty, with just perfectly pruned crop plots left as an eery reminder of what should have been.
The machinery sector has suffered, with the closing of borders slowing down and even stopping the manufacturing process.
And on a personal level, missing birthdays, weddings, various appointments and family and social events has been hard, as I’m sure many of you will agree.
But despite all of the struggle, there have been little chinks of light, and for agriculture that’s accelerated the progression and digitalisation of the industry quicker than we could have ever dreamt of.
While we’ve been on the journey towards a digital way of working for some time, this year has forced the hands of many to quickly adapt strategies to ensure they stay connected with customers.
Instead of flying out to Europe to see the latest machinery launch, Europe has come to us with live demos, launches and a whole host of experts from across the globe on hand to ensure that “in-real-life” coverage was there.
One of the most impressive things I’ve seen this year was KWS’ “virtual” crop plot at the online Cereals Event – which was brilliantly done given the circumstances. Who’d have thought this was possible or useful 12 months ago? Not me, for sure, however I came away feeling content that I’d still been able to gather enough information to really understand what was going on.
And from a growers’ point of view, John Deere has reported a surge in uptake of its Connected Support services during the pandemic, with more users than ever before making use of the remote troubleshooting abilities to minimise downtime and machinery faults – an uptake I wonder would have been so vast without the movement restrictions this year has brought.
So it seems that actually, we as an industry have done incredibly well despite the challenge and adversity we’ve faced, and that’s something that’s bringing me comfort as we head into the unknown of 2021 – with COVID still very much restricting life and our imminent official departure from the EU on 1 Jan.
At the time that this column goes to print, the UK is still in a lockdown, with strict tier system to follow, though I’m hoping that some can take comfort in the thought of being able to spend the festive season with loved ones after a difficult year.
But whether you’re seeing off the end of the year at home, or within a bubble of three, I’d like to wish you the merriest Christmas, and send hope for a more positive 2021.
Originally hailing from Devon, Charlotte Cunningham is now based in Warwicks and when not busy filling the pages of CPM, can be found in the garden or exploring the countryside with two crazy spaniels in tow. firstname.lastname@example.org @charcunningham