IT HAS been and gone yet again – The Royal Highland is Scotland’s greatest farming and rural event and encompasses every aspect that a show ring can accommodate.

There is stock from every corner of the UK and Ireland of all kinds and breeds to see. We were blessed with perfect weather conditions, on every day so what could be better?

Apart from the stock, there are so many other places of interest to visit at the Highland. I have been attending the show since it was sited permanently in Edinburgh and in the early years I showed Ayrshire cows with my father, then Holsteins from here, and I experienced the thrill of standing at the top, to receive that elusive red, white and blue ticket. It is certainly a feeling that is hard to surpass.

In more recent years, it has been the socialising aspect that I have enjoyed, none more so than this one when I had conversations with folks from Lincoln, Orkney and unaccountable places in between – including several from Ireland.

We covered I am sure, every aspect of our industry and thanks to the many who hoped this pen would continue for a while yet!

Several things stood out at our great shop window. It seemed every corner or space possible had a stand of some kind, using it. I also heard of several farmers who used park and ride buses for the first time that dropped them at the main entrance via the non-stop bus lanes.

To beat the traffic queues this time we left home at 6.30am (which worked) and had breakfast in the showground with some grand Aberdeenshire company, who had left home a little earlier than we did.

So I would say that this 'Big Event' for our industry has to be one of the greatest for some considerable time.

The week before the Highland this publication always has several pages of farms for sale. A friend of mine tells me that advertised value, two weeks ago added up to some £52m-worth. But that is not to say they are all going to make their asking price – probably some will make more.

The real question was: 'I wonder just how many will be sold in, say, the next six months?'

The other interesting statistic that came public recently was that farm borrowing over the last 10 years in Scotland had doubled. To me, that is a much more concerning situation and we have to ask why?

I certainly do not see any vast expansion programmes going on as I travel the country. It is more like the contraction of the land, with acre upon acre of buttercups, rushes, and docks that I see growing on what was once productive land.

A friend maintained it was because of the area-based Basic Farm Payment system. He felt that it was the farming equivalent of being on the 'bureau' as it is called here in Central Scotland, or sometimes described as the dole, but really it is the DHSS!

Now that is the opposite of what Frank Clark, now president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) wants.

I thought it was a very good front page piece, two weeks ago. Then, last week, we had the opposite view from Hamish Waugh, who, I am told, is a sheep farmer from Dumfries-shire. Now there is a non-consensus, if ever there was one, for Fergus Ewing.

I am afraid I come down in favour of some form of production-led system. Maybe it needs to have upper limits on it to prevent what we had before – like beef mountains, butter mountains and wine lakes – because we certainly do not want to go back down that road.

From last month’s article Robert MacIntyre, from Newstead, agreed with me in that tiny Scotland can really only operate in a niche market, but asked me if I was in favour, or not, of growth hormones and GM technology? I have to admit I have an open mind on both.

It is a nice dream that if we could sell Scotch beef into a premium market at an enhanced price, it would be great. But then along comes an American beef farmer with his hormone-treated GM-fed steak that is as good as mine, at a much lesser cost – what will Mrs Housewife do?

I do not think it's too hard to find the answer. Then, there would I be with my beef unsold because it is too expensive!

Although I have been across the pond several times, I have yet to experience a poor, or bad eating steak.

I am hearing reports from the length and breadth of Scotland about the effect that this glorious weather is having on crops, some good and some bad. One thing is for sure is that if we have the same conditions in July as we have just had in June – and it was not terribly dry, as we had three-inches here at home.

It is going to be a very different situation compared to last year, as the shortage of straw will be caused by the dry weather instead of last year’s wet harvest!

There is, however, a relatively easy answer to the bedding shortage which is to install cubicles with rubber mats on the Orkney slope with the slurry either going to a lagoon, or above ground storage where it can then be spread on to land that will certainly respond to its application at much less cost than bag fertiliser. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of slatted sheds!

Dairy farmers who took on the 28p/litre long-term deal might just be wishing they had not signed the contract! If we have a 1976 situation, who knows how soon we will see bare shelves and that will certainly be an upset for many.

At the end of March, when I counted up the past winter’s rainfall – which was six-inches higher than in the previous year – I predicted a dry spell sometime down the road, so it looks as if we are having it now.

It is great to see so much excellent forage being conserved in the past number of days motoring around a fair area of Central Scotland. The bulk might not be record breaking, but it certainly must be some of the finest quality conserved for a long time.

I do not think I have ever seen so much dust rising from grass conservation equipment, so I am sure we will see some very high dry matter silages with equally high proteins, which can only help keep feed costs in check next winter.

Grass, which is Scotland’s No 1 crop, whether grazed or conserved, has been our saviour in tough times. But, it can also one of our most difficult crops to manage, usually caused by the vagaries of our climate – will it prove so again this year in terms of bulk?