A BIT like George Orwell’s 1984 and other futuristic books, the year 2020 has often been quoted as a point in the future when farming, alongside most other things, was going to be a bit alien - or certainly very different to that of a traditionalists view.

Well 2020 is here...

Whilst some of the more outlandish predictions were in many ways some distance from current reality, the truth is the world we live in has changed a lot in a short time.

This includes how we go about doing things and, in particular, our use of technology for communication, gathering and using data as well as its applications in the machinery and equipment we now have available.

Innovation will always try to prove that we did not invent the right thing first, second or even the third time around.

There are a few notable exceptions, for example, the shearing machine, which has stood the test of time refined but largely unchanged.

Although our methods may change, what we are trying to achieve often remains the same and the value of, for example, good stockmanship is the same today as it ever was.

There are many new technologies we are starting to use more commonly, things that were not around even a decade or two ago.

Examples include grass plate meters, drones and GPS, not to mention mobiles and apps.

This will continue, especially as large technology companies now see agriculture as fertile ground for future developments.

One of the consequences of more data and better communication is surely that we can learn more and at a faster pace?

Buckminster Fuller estimated that up until 1900, human knowledge doubled every 100 years but by 1945 it was doubling every 25 years.

IBM now estimates that by 2020 (that year again!) human knowledge will be doubling every 12 hours.

This is a bit of a problem if we also recognise Albert Einstein’s famous quote, ‘The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know’.

In a world full of information, we have to be more selective in what we choose to know, and match it to what we actually need to know.

If we do want to gaze into the globalised future beyond 2020, we will likely change both what we do and how we do it in order to set or follow trends.

What will remain true is that humans need nutritious food, satisfied by eating a balanced diet, which more than ever needs to be produced ethically and sustainably.

Welsh farming is up to that challenge and hopefully will have the wind of a well-designed Welsh agricultural policy blowing in its sails.

Dewi Jones

NFU Cymru Clwyd county chairman