If you’re anything like me, then you’re bound to be sick and tired of being stuck in wellies and waterproofs, looking out over fields with ponds where there has never been water lying before.

And, with a good deal of ploughing still to be done before the spring rush starts, it’s easy to get a bit despondent.

But, as they say, ‘there’s aye somebody worse aff than yersel’ – and judging by speakers wheeled (or, perhaps more accurately, canoed) up from the south at a plethora of recent arable meetings and conferences, things must be a good deal worse in some of the cropping areas of England.

For all the big arable boys from down there who have spoken at these events have commented, to a man, on just how tidy and far on things look to be up in Scotland compared with the current state of affairs in their own stomping grounds.

The recent Scottish Agronomy conference was a case in point, with Lincolnshire agronomist, Sean Sparling, highlighting not only how little winter crop had been planted in his own area, but also pointing out that any spring work would be delayed as the sheer weight of the huge volume of rain which had fallen had caused soils to slump.

This was making it impossible to work the land – an issue which had been made even worse by the policies adopted by the Environment Protection Agency which had allowed rivers to silt up, making it harder for the water to get away from flooded fields. This isn’t just an issue in Lincolnshire, he said, but also in Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Oxford and just about all of the cropping areas of the South-east.

Even if the rains did ever get round to stopping, he said that it would take several weeks of good drying weather for the land to become workable.

But while we’ve all been a bit worried about the amount of spring barley which is likely to go in on the other side of the Border this year, with sowing usually well underway in the south by this time, he said that there were fears that these delays would see yield as well as quality suffer.

Indeed, such was the state of affairs that of the 26,500 ha of arable crops he usually oversaw on an annual basis, he said he would be surprised if 15,000 ha were taken through to harvest this year!

While the ramifications of this year’s winter might reverberate for some time, they might also help to highlight just how dependent the country is on making full use of the arable land which we need to feed a growing population.

Mr Sparling said that, despite what ‘the sort or people who spent their lives in their bedrooms on Twitter’ might think, it also showed that to date the industry had been making a pretty good job of producing the raw materials – and that any significant meddling in the current set up could have unforeseen dramatic effects on food production.

Citing the possible banning of glyphosate as an example of this sort of interference, Mr Sparling, said that such an ill-considered move would ignore a whole host of consequences- and while it would certainly cause major production problems it would also, at a stroke, halt the very min-till operations which were, in his opinion, the only way the arable sector could ever approach net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

“It shows that these people are incapable of differentiating between risk and hazard,” said Mr Sparling, stating that the roller skate on the stair might be a hazard – but standing on it was the risk –“And surely making sure that we don’t stand on it is a far more sensible approach than banning roller skates.”

Mr Sparling, who is a strong advocate of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as a means of highlighting to the rest of the population that the industry is doing its best to manage these risks, said that adopting the principles behind the idea did work: “IPM is much, much more than just filling in the form on the Voluntary Initiative website to convince the assurance assessor that you’ve done your bit. It should be at the heart of all our decision-making right from the start.

“It’s true that balls of steel might be required to stick to all the thresholds rather than spraying as an insurance, but we are seeing hard evidence that it does work.”

He added that not only did it benefit the environment and reduce a farm’s carbon footprint, but it also helped save money while helping to get the message over to both consumers and tax payers that the sector was doing things the best way.

How the public viewed agriculture and how consumers bought into the story which farmers could help tell was also highlighted at the conference by Scotland Food and Drink chief executive, James Withers.

The normally upbeat former NFU Scotland chief executive said that the hard work, care and consideration which Scotland’s farmers put into their work behind the scenes had long been ignored – but increasingly this was being recognised as an important part of the story which helped build the Scottish brand allowing the food sector to differentiate products produced in this country from those produced elsewhere.

He said that despite the overall negativity often used in programmes, such as the BBC’s ‘Meat: a threat to our planet?’, it could actually be seen as a huge opportunity for Scottish producers to show that their methods were totally different – and gain the premium it so rightly deserved.

But he said that despite the challenges of Brexit on trade deals (and he roundly condemned the proposals which had been floated that day for the point based work visa system which had been announced on the morning he spoke) the export market had to be target if premiums were going to be achieved.

“Getting more money out of the supermarkets has always been tough and it’s likely to get tougher,” he said. “And while this outlet might be important for volume, the export market is key for profitability.”

Although the uncertainties over future trading relations with Europe and other countries were making it difficult to plan ahead, the export market offered the biggest opportunities for selling ‘Scotland the brand’ and getting profit back into the industry.

In relation to the export market, he said that other countries would ‘give their eye teeth’ for Scotland’s provenance and history – but in order to ensure that this was successfully harnessed, there was a real requirement for innovation and research within the industry – as well as a focus on market and brand building.

Mr Withers said that while whisky and salmon had ‘built the runways’ for selling Scotland’s provenance and story abroad, other sectors were beginning to use these new inroads into markets and to harness Scotland’s reputation for high quality, welfare and environmental friendly food.

However, although Scottish seafood, Scotch beef, rasps and strawberries from fruit farms and many other products were beginning to latch onto the coat-tails of the trailblazing sectors, the arable sector had so far been left on the touchline.

He said that this was due in no small part to the fact that grain crops tended to undergo a good deal or processing before they reached the consumer, admitting that more needed to be done.

However, while he conceded that the whisky industry – Scotland’s biggest source of export income – had possibly been claiming much of this story of provenance and natural goodness for themselves, he didn’t agree with farmer’s calls to tie Scotch whisky down to being made only from Scottish grain: “To do that would mean that one bad harvest could severely compromise the output of the country’s biggest export earner,” said Mr Withers.

So, it looks like we’re the ones who are going to have to continue carrying all the risks of bad weather …