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After weeks of agonising, FAR organisers decided to proceed with the main event under Alert Level 2 restrictions.
The colour-coding extends to packed lunches and even the Portaloos at the Chertsey Arable Research Site.
Organiser Anna Heslop said the bubble-zones would allow up to 300 people on site for the half-day event.
She said the main changes from the past 17 years would be fewer talks and the lack of an international expert.
"We have had to reduce the number of talks from 12 down to six, and instead of attendees picking and choosing which presentations they wish to hear, they’ll be escorted, in their bubble groups, from talk site to talk site."
Ms Heslop said organisers were prepared to cancel the event right up to the last minute if the South Island returned to Alert Level 3.
She said visitor safety was the priority, and more staff marshalls would be on site to ensure bubbles were not breached.
The well-run Ellesmere and Ashburton A&P Shows had proved that with a bit of innovation, worthwhile rural events could still go ahead for the community, she said.
Without an overseas expert, the focus would go on the main FAR and Plant and Food Research speakers.
The Biopesticides session was expected to generate interest for growers looking to move away from chemical fertilisers and other inputs.
Other sessions on nitrogen use in ryegrass seed crops and deliberate decisions for arable crops were topical as rule-makers brought in more restrictions to protect freshwater and reduce greenhouses gases.
Ms Heslop said the rules were coming in fast with nitrous oxide more of an issue for arable farmers than methane emissions.
She said they were looking to use nitrogen fertiliser more efficiently for environmental gains and also because prices had gone up again.
Ms Heslop said the colour bubble system was FAR’s Plan B for last year’s field days, but was not needed back then.
- Tim Cronshaw