WELL, WHEN the combine’s yield metre started hitting over 18 tonnes to the hectare in one of our fields of wheat, unlike some grain-growing pundits, I found myself Googling the calibration procedure for the unit rather than the Guinness Book of World Records.

But while I certainly wouldn’t be claiming any world records, it’s hard to deny that there have been some pretty stonking yields out there following a season which, as far as the weather has been concerned, has probably had some mixed reviews.

And the mixed season carried on relentlessly well into harvest time, making it a 'grab it while you can' sort of event, with odds of one of the showers blowing across the valley catching us just after the combine got started seemingly stacked as heavily against us one of those on-line gambling sites.

As the adverts on these sites say: when the fun stops, stop…

It’s maybe a bit of an insensitive thing to say given some of the tales from down south, but with the crops yielding well above expectations – and contract obligations – space for storing the harvested crop became one of the over-riding considerations as the end of harvest approached, and the 'just-in-time' logistics of getting lorry loads out as we need to get trailer loads in as we approach the last few fields still has a tendency to bring me out in a cold sweat.

And the issue was the subject of many’s a sleepless night across most of harvest, with the mental gymnastics required to work out where the different batches of different crops could be stored constantly being balanced against the odds of having a load collected and freeing up space.

But it would appear that lorries are a bit like buses – and just when you least expect them, there’s a tendency for three to turn up at the same time.

Thankfully, though, we were fairly lucky to get just about all our spring barley lifted before the big rush began to really test the ability of the haulage companies to cart the stuff away, and we managed to keep our feet cleared to a reasonable extent.

Away from the combine though, while we were busy with their noses to the grindstone and our thoughts were focused on the harvest, it was a bit sneaky of the powers-that-be to quietly drop what amounted to two fairly major pieces of news with very little in the way of either fanfare or industry response.

I guess the first was the fact that, unlike our counterparts south of the Border, we’re going to be saddled with the continuation of the Greening regulations for the foreseeable future.

Fair do’s though, there has been one tweak – and that has been the dropping of the three crop rule, a move which has to be viewed as a step in the right direction, no matter how small.

I suspect though, that the much of the damage has been done by five years of this entirely unsuitable regulation – and anyone who stopped growing grain due to the restriction of this imposition isn’t really very likely to be able to afford the investment to jump back into growing grain just because of the relaxation of the rule.

Not so good though was the fact that the always confusing Ecological Focus Area (EFA) requirement continues to stand – albeit with the promise of a 'wider review' sometime down the line. Wouldn’t go holding my breath though…

It has to be said that this part of the scheme does stick in the craw of a lot of growers. For while the EFA can see arable growers having to take 5% of their highly productive land out of production, all their counterparts in the livestock side seem to have to do is draw up a plan for lime and fertiliser use on their permanent pasture. As a well-know grain farmer asked – “how would the livestock boys feel if they had to keep 5% of their flocks or herds yeld?”

I guess the continuation of greening should be viewed as a bit of a trade-off for the current support measures carrying on for a few years yet – but Greening rules have been a pretty blunt instrument all along, and have always been poorly targeted to the needs of either Scotland’s farming or environmental issues

But smarter, more effective options could easily be introduced without too much fuss, especially in the EFA scheme, and it would be a nice thought that these could be influenced by some of the input from the farming industry actually being heeded – and which might actually help us do something about climate change and biodiversity rather than simply ticking boxes.

Sadly, though, any revision looks set to be conducted through the political machine of the Programme for Government which is likely to be drawn up by people with their eye on the urban vote rather than the rural one.

And, almost as if to prove my point, the second announcement that came out last week, as we were all busy and focused on the harvest, was actually delivered through this very source.

It’s true that the Sustainable Agriculture Capital Grant Scheme (SACGS) should probably be welcomed as a way of boosting investment in what can be some pretty expensive tech which you might struggle to justify on purely economic terms.

But this small token in the Programme for Government announcement immediately provided a key pointer towards how the course of things are likely to move in the future – and while the forestry sector received £150 million out of this directive, the SACGS – the grand new pilot scheme for the entire agricultural industry – drew a budget of only £10 million.

Ignoring the cash limitations though, at first sight it looked like Christmas had come early with the capital incentives offered. For with 50% grants to buy shiny new high tech equipment what’s not to like? And the list of offerings of things that qualify would be enough to get any farm-tech geek slabbering at the mouth.

Who wouldn’t want some cash in hand to buy some new GPS autosteer kit, a few of those very increased flexion tyres, update the yield monitors and get a variable rate control box for the sprayer and fert spreader?

But it has to be borne in mind that the 'Generation Game' conveyer belt of goodies which has been passed before the industry’s eyes is bound by that £10 million budget.

Of course with grants of up to £20,000 per business being promised, it might even be enough to tempt those still busy with harvest to be pretty quick off the mark and get an application in with the intention of grabbing a share of the handout.

I’m no mathematician – and correct me if I’m wrong – but if anything like the 16,000 odd businesses which are likely to qualify actually put in an application for the grants there’s either going to be 500 businesses out there laughing while the other 15,500 end up more than a little disappointed – or everyone’s going to get in the region of £625 to offset their capital expenditure.

Of course while the odds of winning are low, it might still be well worth the gamble of putting an application in.

Just remember when the fun stops, stop.