What will your farm or forestry business look like in 2030?

If you were one of the thousand-plus visitors who attended Farming Connect’s Innovation and Diversification Wales event at the Royal Welsh showground, you probably already have a good idea.

Farming Connect had brought together more than 100 innovation, technology and diversification organisations and individuals together with 30 inspirational speakers from Wales, the UK and beyond.

Their collective remit was to inspire, motivate and encourage the huge crowd of visitors to open their minds to innovation, technology and help them acquire the mindset, confidence and abilities needed to transform diversification ideas into a success story.

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, the charismatic Jamaican-born businessman and food entrepreneur known as The Black Farmer, charmed a rapt audience as he told them they would all need to make a friend of uncertainty if they wanted to succeed in life.

“You need to be passionate about whatever it is you are going to do, because passion defies reason and logic, and those two can hold you back!" he said.

“Be ruthlessly focused, like an athlete, rid yourself of ‘white noise’, and don’t listen to the doubters who haven’t the courage or the audacity to try something new or different themselves.”

Like many of the other speakers, Mr Emmanuel-Jones emphasised that if you don’t think ‘outside the box’ and only continue with what’s familiar or certain, you’re not pushing yourself to the maximum, and will not achieve your potential.

Sophie Colquhoun, of Category-Insight, an experienced food marketeer and category strategy specialist provided insight into what the customers of tomorrow might look like and what they’ll expect from food producers.

“It’s cool to be kind to the climate already, but this trend will gather momentum as the younger generation, many of whom grew up using digital technology almost before they could talk, become ever more aware of needing to protect the environment for future generations.”

Sophie referred to ‘conscious consumers’ who want to change the way they live and eat, and the ‘transformation technologies’ that organisations like Tesco – already testing deliveries by robot – and Amazon Go – a new kind of store with no checkout - are trialling.

“Anyone wanting to start up or develop a new enterprise needs to be aware of future trends before they invest their money and time,” said Sophie.

Daniel Sumner, Microsoft’s Seattle-based, Anglesey-born, worldwide director, addressed his fascinated audience on the ‘Internet of Things’, the value of artificial intelligence and the cloud, explaining how farming families and rural communities need to embrace these accessible new technologies to run more efficient businesses and compete in a global marketplace.

“The cost of these new devices is getting lower and lower and so it’s now feasible to have soil, PH and many other sensors which work for you on your farm,” said Mr Sumner.

Eirwen Williams, director of rural programmes with Menter a Busnes rounded up the event saying: “This has been the largest sector-specific event Menter a Busnes has ever organised on behalf of Farming Connect, and in many ways, it has been one of our most rewarding.

“To attract more than 1,000 visitors for what was the first event of its type and scale ever held in Wales, demonstrates that despite the current economic uncertainties throughout our industry, there is a dynamic and progressive workforce out there, all determined to ensure that every element of their business reaches its full potential.”

A full round-up of the event and an opportunity to hear all the speaker presentations, will be available soon on Farming Connect’s YouTube channel, visit youtube.com and search Farming Connect and subscribe to watch various Farming Connect videos.

Farming Connect, which is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra, is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and Welsh Government.