The Agri-Tech Conference: Adapt & Innovate at REAP ’23

Conference season might seem like a carousel of speakers, networking sessions, and buffet sandwiches, yet their value remains as significant as ever. So, while ’tis the season (the agri-tech conference season…), come and discover what REAP 2023 has in store!

As we know, the world has changed a lot over the last few years (which – not entirely coincidentally – inspired this year’s REAP theme!). Our first REAP, back in 2014, sold out with just 100 delegates, and since then we’ve expanded and introduced a technology exhibition and the farmer-exclusive breakfast.

As we rev up for REAP 2023, we’ve been reflecting on the expansion of agri-tech conferences over the last decade, and how to get the most from them.

Fewer freebies, less waste, more efficient

What’s changed, and more importantly, what’s stayed the same?

While Covid may have influenced working behaviours, it’s heartening to see conference attendance returning to pre-pandemic levels. Yet, the focus has shifted towards sustainability. Goodbye, delegate bags crammed with fistfuls of advertising flyers, stress toys and pens; hello, digital delegate packs and plastic-free badges.

And the great Business Card Conundrum continues. A recent experience at the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit suggests the ritual exchange of business cards remains A Thing (undeterred by their potential as carriers of Covid and the plenty of tech alternatives to connect people). And while these cardboard squares may seem quaint in a room of cutting-edge technologies, these cards become your post-conference trail of important conversations, new and rekindled connections, and – crucially – the need to follow up.

As expectations rise for in-person events and virtual fatigue sets in, the goal is to ensure that attending a conference is time well spent.

Community and Connection – REAPing your reward

So, what attracts people to attend conferences?

Attendees come to grapple with shared industry challenges – united with an ambition for collective change – and to catch a glimpse of the future.

At REAP 2023, we’ve lined up two thought leaders for the keynote session: Defra’s Chief Scientific Advisor Prof Gideon Henderson and NFU Vice President David Exwood who will show us the direction of travel for science and agriculture, and – hopefully – where and how the two will convene.

And attendees come to learn, certainly, but the primary allure is in meeting and expanding your network.

At REAP, we’ve built a welcoming ecosystem with plenty of networking opportunities. This is a chance to connect, share ideas, and expand your circle. It seems simple, but it really is the case that the more you put in, the more you get out. Seize this opportunity at REAP – save emails and phone calls for the train journey home!

If you’re new to networking, the tech exhibition booths are an excellent place to start – our exhibitors are eager to share their knowledge and show off their products!

Presenting the Presentations

It’s not just about making connections; it’s also about making sense. The job of a conference organiser is to deliver a programme pitched at the right level for a diverse audience. So an exciting line-up of well-briefed speakers is key – learning from people we might have heard about, be impressed or challenged by, or even follow on social media. The chance to meet them in person and learn from them first-hand can be a compelling reason to spend a precious day in a lecture theatre.

At REAP 2023:

  • We’ll explore supply chain “discomfort” with representatives from global businesses Diageo, Tesco and AM Fresh who have responsibility for sustainability as well as continuity.
  • The technology is also a key attraction, with farmers, investors and the media all looking for the “next big thing” poised to transform the industry. The REAP tech exhibition has a line-up of cool, available new tech to explore alongside offering unique insights about the status of the industry.

The (conference) room where it happens

But it’s not just about the presentations, it’s about the people “in the room”.

Central to any agricultural conference should be the farmers. Their presence ensures that the insights and discussions are rooted in the practicalities of farming. At REAP they’ll be there on a speaker panel, chairing sessions and as part of the audience – challenging the speakers to keep it real!

So, why attend REAP 2023? It’s your chance to network, learn, be inspired, and explore the future of agriculture. Hopefully you’ll leave with some new insights, a stack of business cards and a smile.

And if doing this for the 10th time has taught us anything about running a conference, it’s to make sure the lunch arrives on time!  

To register for REAP click here – and for farmers and students in full-time education in an ag-related subject, apply for a REAP bursary here.

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This post originally appeared on TechToday.

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