While some of the heat might now have gone out of the harvest-time panic over fodder and straw supplies for livestock keepers, it was interesting to see just how well grain growers reacted to the threat of adversity, albeit in another sector.

True, altruism – the desire to help our fellow men – might not have been the only driver for the extraordinary increase in the amount of straw baled rather than chopped and few could put their hands on their hearts and deny that the price which straw was making at the time didn’t come into the equation.

But the fact that the industry did respond to the problem shows that the arable sector isn’t too stuck in its ways to be able to change to its practices at pretty short notice. Looking round the countryside, there’s also been plenty of attempts to address the forage shortage as well with later applications of fertiliser allowing some reasonable cuts of silage to be taken in October – and more stubble turnips and other forage mixes sown in after cereal crops than there has been for many years.

Whether or not this will yield worthwhile returns remains to be seen but, again, it shows that given the demand – and a decent weather window – the sector can pull out the stops and take an innovative approach, rather than trundling blindly along in the same old rutted tramlines.

But while the returns from trying to carry out some double cropping like this might be finely balanced, sowing these crops has also highlighted another phenomenon. Round the country – and especially on earlier, lighter land – where winter crops haven’t gone in, a lot of fields are showing a really good take of barley resulting from what went over the back of the combine. This lush re-growth is providing a fair bit of feed in itself.

Certainly, the harshness of the conditions in the run up to the early stages of harvest meant that even the best of combines were struggling to make a perfect job of thrashing the awns off the spring crop. Chastened by malting rejections in previous years, combine operators were aware of the dangers of simply thrashing the stuff harder and running the risk of seriously pushing up the proportion of skinned and split grains to above the limits accepted by our friends the maltsters.

On the other hand, leaving too many grains with awns still attached risked not only the ever-present problem of grain blockages at every stage of the handling process, but risked rejection as well.

I suspect that in a bid to avoid these quality issues and despite the fears of any subsequent embarrassment, a bit more than normal might have been going over the back. The return of some moisture and continued warm temperatures means that almost every seed which escaped the combine’s grain tank managed to germinate and establish itself nicely.

Where they’ve been left untouched, these volunteers have brought a touch of green to many fields and this has been particularly marked where stubble turnips – and a dose of fertiliser – have followed.

I’ve noticed recently in some fields that some of these plants have now headed – and while it would be delusional to think that they will ever actually reach maturity, it has shown that, given the right weather, there is a tantalising hint that at some stage in the future there might be some prospect of getting an additional cash crop rather than just a catch crop from the same field.

But what we’re seeing around the country just now would certainly offer anyone with a real fodder shortage an opportunity to either get some additional grazing or maybe even take an opportunistic cut of arable silage off some of these greener fields.

Even leaving this unusually verdant re-growth until ploughing down in the spring would offer some of the nutrient preserving benefits of a cover crop, saving fertiliser elements being leached away and making them available for whatever is to be grown the following season.

So, while the unusual year which has seen the industry as a whole facing up to some extreme challenges and might have led to the land being used a wee bit harder than normal, it might also have led to it being used a bit smarter as well.

It all points to the fact that the industry is suitably flexible to cope with some of the adversities which the past season has thrown at us.

With troubled times likely to lie ahead, the industry might see adversity as a spur to drive it forward – with the challenge to the staid and complacent attitudes of a relatively easy life making way for a more innovative and flexible attitude to what we grow and how we grow it.

For it’s a truism that most innovation is driven by adversity in some form, be it in the fields of the arts, in science or in the practical application of new findings – and it might just be that hard times will drive the next big step forward in agriculture.

This has long been recognised and the classic example of this was given by the author, Graham Greene, in The Third Man: “You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance.

“In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? ... The cuckoo clock.”

So while the CAP might have provided us with an extended period of Swiss-like calm and continuity, the future might be less serene. While I used to think that the term disruptive technology was something that let teenagers play their music even louder into the wee sma’ hours, in most other areas of business it is currently viewed as a force for good which displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry.

As the farming industry uses its newly realised flexibility to sift through its own current range of disruptive technologies – such as no-till cropping, satellite-guided controlled traffic cultivation, companion planting, autonomous tractors, drones, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, big data and mini-robots – it would be good to think we might end up with something a bit more Sistine Chapel ceiling, rather than low budget replica cuckoo clock.