All traffic to Fieldays 2020 will be digital, as the Southern Hemisphere's largest agricultural event will be online-only this year.

"The New Zealand National Fieldays Society has made the difficult decision to not host a physical event in 2020 - instead shifting our focus to the physical event in 2021 and making our 2020 event, Fieldays Online, a huge success," NZNFS chief executive Peter Nation said in a statement.

The NZNFS understood that Fieldays Online wouldn't work for some exhibitors, so full account credits or alternate refund options were offered for their site fees, Nation said.

"So far, we have processed just under half of our existing exhibitors and 68 per cent of them have opted for the site credit or have signed up for Fieldays Online, while only 32 per cent have chosen a refund," Nation said.

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A year of planning and preparation goes into each Fieldays event. The physical site build starts two months beforehand and there were over 2000 contractors involved most days.

Listen to Jamie Mackay interview Peter Nation about Fieldays Online on The Country below:

The disruption to business due to Covid-19 had had far reaching impacts on the feasibility of holding the physical Fieldays, and this included running a postponed event, Nation said.

It would therefore be detrimental to the 2021 Fieldays to effectively host the event twice in the same financial year.

However, the new Fieldays format meant it could now be truly global, which provided another level of connectivity beyond borders, Nation said.

"We have been blown away by exhibitor responses, with inquiries coming in from across the globe including South Africa, Italy, Sweden, China and Ireland including some Kiwi favourites. Having a digital event opens the door to an international audience of customers, exhibitors, industry players, importers, and exporters."

New Zealand National Fieldays Society CEO Peter Nation. Photo / Stephen Barker
New Zealand National Fieldays Society CEO Peter Nation. Photo / Stephen Barker

Trade Me had come on board to support the digital marketing and sales for Fieldays Online, and digital production company Satellite would oversee the functionality of the experience, with each exhibitor given their own digital site producer to customise their offerings. Fieldays Innovation awards sponsors Amazon Web Services, Callaghan Innovation and James and Wells also continued to back the event.

"We recognise that some of the real-life aspects of the event are beyond a digital experience and we are constantly finding ways in which we can bring the most loved elements of the event online," said Nation.

"We'll be hosting Fieldays Kitchen Theatre demonstrations from well-known Kiwi Chefs and media personalities. We'll be showcasing this years' Fieldays Innovations finalists and catching up with past winners' progress and chatting to the experts in key areas of farm tech and topical issues."

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Fieldays Online will offer a wide variety of exhibitors and will run for two weeks instead of the usual four days. The event will take place from July 13 to July 26 2020.

Find out more about Fieldays Online at fieldays.co.nz/online