Thursday, 14 May 2020 09:57

Future is zooming away

Written by  Staff Reporters
Tim Mackle. Tim Mackle.

The COVID-19 pandemic may change the way farmers attend discussions long term, according to DairyNZ.

With face-to-face discussion groups gone for the moment due to COVID-19, DairyNZ has been quick to embrace the virtual world and tailor webinars and other online tools to assist farmers during the crisis.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says about half their normal discussion groups are now online Zoom discussions. But he says not all farmers want this and some have said they would prefer to wait until face-to-face discussion groups are possible in the future.

He says before DairyNZ runs a discussion session on-line, they consult the local farmers to see if they want to operate in that way. But he says there are some interesting trends with those on-line group discussions that are taking place.

“One interesting thing, and it’s only anecdotal, is that there has been change in the type of people that turn up on-line: some people and groups that tune in are different to the ones that come to the face-to-face meetings. 

“There seems to be a slight lift in the number of owner-operators and decisions makers who are participating, which is interesting.

“Whether it’s because they want to know what’s going on or whether it’s because of the shorter format we don’t know, but it’s something that we will tease out,” he says.

On-line webinars in the evening is something that is appealing to some farming couples. While some want to switch off all things farming, others want to switch on and connect with experts offering new information.

“To a great degree a lot of this depends on the topic,” says Mackle.

“We had a ‘smart wintering’ webinar recently and it attracted 350 people online. We also believe there could have been more than one person watching and in some cases it may have been the whole farm team, so that was quite a success.

“In my view, targeted topics with a quality guest speaker is the way of the future. It appears that many people favour a ‘crunchy hour’ in the evening and so we plan to be flexible and deliver whatever our people want and in a format that suits them,” he says.

Mackle says the aim is to get as many people engaged in discussion sessions of one sort or another.

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