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The show must go on(line)

Ag In Motion Discovery Plus will be as close to the real thing as possible

You may not physically be in Lanigan, Sask., July 21 to 25 this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still spend at least a few hours, if not a few days, next week checking out new products and new technology at the sixth annual Ag In Motion (AIM) farm show.

In keeping with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions that limit the size of group gatherings, physically attending the show isn’t an option this year. However, show organizers have gone to great lengths to bring as much of the “reality” of the show as possible to viewers as they connect online through the Ag In Motion website, aginmotion.ca.

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You won’t be rubbing shoulders with any of your 30,000 farming neighbours as in past years, but demonstrations of seeding, tillage and fertilizing equipment, speaker seminars and workshops, tours of crop plots and research sites, livestock handling demonstrations and, of course, dozens, if not hundreds, of exhibitors of the virtual trade show will all be online during the AIM days, says Rob O’Connor, the show director.

“Farmers have to realize there may not be any live farm shows anywhere this year,” says O’Connor. “What we have developed for Ag In Motion is really the next best thing to being there.” AIM has expanded and customized existing virtual trade show software to bring Western Canadian farmers — really any farmers in the world — the best experience possible.

And it will be easy to access, says O’Connor. “Farmers just need to log into the Ag In Motion website, click on the Discovery Plus link and they’ll be at the show,” he says. There is no cost to connect and participate, but producers will be asked to complete a short profile of their farm or ranch operation.

“Just like the live event, there will be a lot to see at the virtual Ag In Motion show,” says O’Connor. “We are using artificial intelligence software that will review a farmer’s profile and then select or make suggestions of products, equipment, seminars or demonstrations that farmer might be most interested in. It doesn’t limit them from going anywhere in the ‘show’ but it might help narrow it down to some of the most relevant sites.”

Schedules will be posted showing times of field demonstrations as well as speaker presentations. The site will be easy to navigate so viewers can click on descriptive icons to connect them with various areas of the show. Field-scale research projects at the new AIM Discovery Farm will also be featured online during the AIM days (see sidebar).

During the AIM days

While there will be a lot of the AIM show available online after the show is over, during the actual days of the show — July 21 to 25 — viewers will be able to connect live online with exhibitors, company representatives, agronomy experts and other farmers through any number of chat rooms.

The actual field demonstrations, such as seeding, fertility, tillage and livestock handling are being conducted before the AIM days so that each demo can be properly filmed by a professional video crew. That video footage will be played in the demonstration time slot during the AIM days.

“We are working to produce quality videos,” says O’Connor. “Immediately following seeding demonstrations, for example, farmers like to get their hands in the seed row to look at seed placement or distance between seed and fertilizer. We’re hoping to capture that kind of detail with our videos.”

So, July 21, for example, a farmer can go online at 2 p.m. to watch whatever demonstration is scheduled. Perhaps it is seeding. Also, during that time slot, a chat room will be open so the viewer can connect with the moderator of the demonstration, a sales rep or agronomist so they can ask questions of the different companies or experts, just as if they were at a live show.

“Throughout the actual Ag In Motion days most of the exhibitors, presenters and demonstration sites will have people available live online to answer questions from farmers,” says O’Connor. “These chat room opportunities will focus on product information and education.”

Just like during the live show, most of the demonstrations and speaker presentations will be replayed or re-presented over the days of the show. If a farmer/viewer is unable to join a demonstration during the scheduled time, the demonstration will still be available online for later viewing, but obviously won’t include the opportunity for the live chat room exchange.

Livestock Central and more

Along with a busy schedule of virtual crop tours and equipment demonstrations, there will be a full program at Livestock Central as well this year. That will include a Beef Breeds Showcase, as well as cattle handling demonstrations, forage harvesting demonstrations and demos of Total Mixed Rations mixers. Again, chat rooms will be open during the scheduled demonstrations and any speaker presentations.

One of the new features for 2020 will be a video demonstration comparing side-by-side UTVs (Utility Task or Utility Terrain Vehicles) from different manufacturers — see them operate, get a close up look at features, and connect through a chat room with product representatives.

Registration was still open for the trade show exhibitors as of the late-June deadline for this article, however, O’Connor expected many of the 500 or so trade show exhibitors who participated in Ag In Motion 2019, will be back for the virtual trade show in 2020. Again farmers/viewers will be able to check out the virtual trade show booths and also connect with product representatives during the AIM days. As with the live event, there are expected to be many “trade show price specials” during the 2020 event.

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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