What a difference a year makes: from one conference to the next

What a difference a year makes: from one conference to the next

3rd February 2021

By George Lawrie, Executive Chairman at Scottish Agronomy

plus Scottish Agronomy AGM and Conference 2021 – when, where and who is speaking

We are now round to that time of year when every week there seems to be at least one or two conferences that we can attend to refresh our technical knowledge and catch up with old and make new acquaintances.

When Scottish Agronomy met last February for our AGM /Conference, we had one of our best turnouts ever. I would like to put this down to the high calibre of speakers we had managed to attract, and, yes, this would have some reflection in the attendance, but if the truth be told we were going through one of the wettest Februarys I can remember, and our members just wanted to get away from the farm and forget about the rain for the day.

We all hoped on the day that things would change, but I don’t think any of us quite thought how big a change awaited us in 2020. The weather did dry up, and the crops in the ground, and those sown in the spring, survived to give us a better than average harvest.

But that was not the big change we had to adapt to. With the introduction of lockdown we at Scottish Agronomy had to look at how we continued to serve our members and also how we were still going to get trial results that allow you to make the best decisions possible.

Zoom was still thought to be an ice lolly that we all loved in the 70’s and 80’s, but little did we know that this was going to be the technology that kept us in touch with you the member, conduct board meetings and even hold monthly management meetings.

On the trials side, more vehicles were hired so as we could respect social distancing and continue with the day-to-day tasks, and we even created ‘combining bubbles’ to get the harvest completed.

All this shows that, as an industry, we are very quick to adapt to change and, with this change, we have embraced new ways of working. Now, I am not saying that video conferencing will become the norm, as you definitely miss out a lot of the personal connection, and banter at the bar, but I do think that there is a place for using this technology, like a member who would love to attend a group meeting but needs to keep the de-stoner going that day.

This is when two pieces of tech come together to prove useful.  One, we can setup a group zoom meeting, and two you can setup your satellite guidance so you can still partake in the meeting while operating safely.

Our conference 2021

With all this new technology we are still able to go ahead with our AGM / Conference on the 17th February, and again we have managed to attract two high calibre speakers, Dr Keith Dawson and Hampshire farmer, Andrew Osmond.

Keith is a leading scientist and well-respected journalist within agricultural circles. After serving with leading research and development companies in the UK, Keith turned his energy to developing a major farming operation in Eastern Europe.

This has developed over the years, bringing back 250,000 acres of land into mainstream production using modern technology to improve soils quality, and reduce the reliance of chemical in controlling pests and diseases. As well as his work in Eastern Europe he has land interest in South America, a stake in a renewable energy company and is chairman of Scottish Society of Crop Research (SSCR).

See a recent article by Dr Keith Dawson: Feeding the world and keeping the peace in The Scottish Farmer.

Andrew farms 2100acres near Winchester in Hampshire, and a further 280 acres in neighbouring Dorset.  The land is a mixture of owned and contract farming. This is an all-arable unit with the owned land used to grow seed crops of Winter Wheat, Winter and Spring Barley and grass. WOSR and protein   peas are grown in the rotation as a clean break.

On the contracted land, he grows milling and biscuit quality wheat, Winter and Spring Barley for feed and malting and WOSR. He brings on 3000 lambs in September each year to graze the grass seed area.

As well as farming, he has be involved with AHDB in both the cereals and oilseed main board and cereals export committee, past chairman of the Commercial Farmers Group and on the steering group of the Beewax Dyson GCI. He is a current member and chair of Wessex NIAB TAG

We hope you will join us on Wednesday 17th February to hear the different perspectives of these two very highly respected and interesting speakers at our conference. We look forward to seeing you (virtually) and to hearing your questions for the panel.


Scottish Agronomy AGM & Annual Conference, Wednesday 17 February 2021, 2.30-4pm.   Keep an eye on your email for the Zoom link.                 

AGM 2.30pm (farming members only)

3.05pm Dr Keith Dawson

3.30pm Andrew Osmond

3.50pm Q&A

Finish 4pm



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