Around Scotland in just Four Days!! - Agrii - Connecting Agri-science with farming

David Neale Blog

February 27, 2013

Around Scotland in just Four Days!!

Around Scotland in just Four Days!!

Last week I jumped on a plane at Birmingham and flew to Inverness, a 1.5 hour flight compared with 8 hours in the car! After crossing a snowy South and Peak District towards and over the Cairngorms and into Inverness with no snow and a balmy 7 degrees and clear blue sky looking across to the Black Isle.

We held meetings from Inverness to Inverurie (near Aberdeen) and had a full house of farmers keen to debate the current issues at each event. This part of Scotland is a huge area for malting barley with ploughs at work in readiness for drilling on light soils. For sure this area had the better of the UK harvest and subsequent drilling conditions. Driving past many of the well-known distilleries reminds you of this highly significant industry, I have included some interesting facts for you! Did you know….

  • The Scottish Barley acreage is 300,000 Ha
  • Annual production is approximately 1.7 million tonnes
  • The uptake for malting in Scotland is between 40-50% of the total production
  • Scottish wheat acreage is 120,000 Ha
  • Annual turnover is 7.6 billion Euros
  • The industry Supports 35,000 jobs, this is second only to oil and gas in terms of contribution to the Scottish economy

Moving down through Scotland our next stop is a late arrival in Dundee, here we see another full house of 100 farmers joining us from Arbroath to Perth. We see more challenging harvest and drilling conditions in this area but we are in an area rich in potato growing and of course the soft fruit in areas around Dundee and Perth.

Leaving Dundee in a heavy snow storm with difficult roads we head to Edinburgh with no snow and then on to Haddington (south of Edinburgh) to the worst affected area of Scotland,  the highly productive Lowlands and Borders. Here large farms are faced with only 50% of their wheat in the ground at best and this is a big crop for them. All sectors have struggled here with grain quality, yield and now drillings and survival of delicate crops.

In all of this we find ourselves surrounded by philosophical and resolute growers and agronomists with a determination to overcome and deal with the challenges this season has presented. It has been a difficult season and we do recognize the challenges that our customers are facing but it is great to see such a determined outlook. Looking at this year’s values and the next two years prices there is good reason for confidence but as I remind people prices can come down as we saw in 2007/8 when markets lost £100 tonne in 16 weeks! Remember take some cover and have a plan ‘A little and often does you good!’

and since….

Let’s not shout too loudly but…. we have had 10 days of cold but drying conditions, and is it going to take some drying! More to come I think as we see winter wheat and spring barley going into neighbouring fields, what a season! We are dealing with calls every day about late drilling of wheat. We have informed technical advice on vernalisation and specific variety work so if in doubt speak with your agronomist or ring your local Agrii seed contact.

We know our soil structures are in a fair predicament and no surprises that our SoilQuest team are faced with a huge upsurge in demand. Without the work of our precision agronomy team the future crop yields will continue to be limited in their output potential, speak with your agronomist or a member of our SoilQuest team for practical and meaningful support in this area.

As for Spring Seed!

We seem to be exhausting Europe of barley and wheat seed as well as spring oilseed rape. I commented on Bloomberg on Friday regarding European seed and increased costs (mainly from haulage!) but also plantings and expected crop size. In talking crop size of wheat I am rightfully concerned that we are not too pessimistic or optimistic but realistic! Is it 11 or 12 million tonnes of wheat, who knows, nature still has a major part to play. All I know is wheat acreage will finish up around 15% down and OSR around 20% down but lifted by spring acreage of lower yielding crops. Spring barley is likely to be up around 40%! I will look to comment in more detail in the weeks ahead.

Beware of Crop Values

The Fund Managers and USDA will talk about large plantings of Maize to recover their deficit from this year but again it is a long way to harvest. We know interested parties are keen to get values down so beware of the messages you receive but do not get stuck in a UK bubble! We are a large farm unit in a global market place and whilst we do have a local relevance it is global factors and players that call our daily prices.


We are getting involved with Adam Henson at The Cotswold Farm Park to help develop an education centre for young people. There will be particular focus by us on environmental areas of pollen and nectar mixes, beetle banks and bee activity, as well as the role of farmers in shaping and maintaining our great UK countryside. I look forward to bringing you more information on this, the key is a focus on educating school groups and teachers about how the countryside works in harmony with food production and wildlife management.

We already have great examples around the UK and Open Farm Sunday is a great project which we help our local farmers with when we can.  Let us know of your activities and if we can be of assistance, it is important we help you in the local community.

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