Larry Tesler passed away last week. You have never heard of him, but the inventor of copy and paste has been cut and pasted to a better place. So long Larry, you were responsible for simultaneously the worst and the greatest innovation in the age of word processing.

It has been the cause of many a blunder and unintended message. Not only is it a terrible temptation for plagiarists and essay writing students everywhere, it can lead to massive financial losses too – in 2012, JP Morgan lost $6.2bn mainly due to a copy and paste error in an Excel spreadsheet. A trifling sum for them, no doubt, but eye watering for the rest of us.

Of course, if the downsides are bad, the saving in time is huge, particularly for a muddle-headed thinker like me. It is possibly the greatest time-saving invention in publishing since Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1450s, but like any tool, it is only as good as the workman who wields it.

Which brings me to the work people at the Home Office who wrote the latest immigration policy. The dreadful muddle they have come up with needs a serious amount of cut and not very much paste to make it viable.

Literally, everyone in the industry has been warning the Home Office for the past three years about the dangers to British flower and food production and processing of an overly restrictive migration policy and last week’s announcement has done nothing to reassure some very worried farmers and workers.

There are thousands of full-time migrant workers in Scottish agriculture and while Ringlink, Tarff Valley, plus the Borders and Highland machinery rings are all doing pre-apprenticeships to encourage young people into the industry, there are never going to be enough. In fruit and veg, particularly, but also other sectors, it makes sense to promote people with experience up through the ranks, which inevitably means they have come from abroad.

There has been a lot of frantic reading between the lines to see if migrants will be able to work in agricultural jobs, but it looks to me like they would need to be on the Shortage Occupation List, which is determined by the dreaded Migration Advisory Committee, and that the employer would need to be a government-registered sponsor.

This is a process filled to the brim with cost and bureaucracy. The Home Office might well be planning to make allowances for jobs in horticulture, meat processing and so on, despite all evidence to the contrary, but who knows what’s really going on in there? It’s a mystery. It’s like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory, except there’s never any chocolate. One hopes they are doing something useful, but the evidence is scarce.

The Scottish Government also deserve credit for the sensible position on migration it has taken from the start. If the Home Office had taken a similar approach, it could have saved everyone a huge amount of time, stress and money.

It is hardly a secret that many Scottish Conservatives feel the same (as alluded to in last week's Leader column, it's time to stick your head above the parapet chaps, or else have a quiet word). Alternatively, the proposals for a regional differentiation to migration put forward by the Scottish government’s minister for migration and public finance, Ben McPherson, are very reasonable, and should be given proper consideration.

Something needs to change very soon, because there are a lot of deeply concerned fruit and veg growers out there who don’t know if they will have a business next year.

At least there are signs of movement on the seasonal worker scheme, with the increase to 10,000 confirmed for this year. Businesses need a clear indication very soon that the numbers will be expanded to 70,000 for next year, with a simple low-cost work card rather than the expensive Tier 5 visa which would render the scheme unviable and we could finally have a policy that gives confidence to horticulture.

There is a very good reason for needing this commitment now. In order to secure new strawberry and raspberry plants from Holland, we need to place our orders right now, along with a 25% deposit and then we are legally committed to taking them.

Apologies for the preaching, so perhaps it is time for a confession. Late last year, I unfairly badmouthed a new Charolais bull for a run of oversized calves leading to difficult calvings, two Caesareans and several losses. I’m relieved to say that the bull is blameless.

His calves to the spring herd are popping out easily and it has become clear that the autumn calvers just had too much tucker up in Glen Lyon last summer. Additionally, the cows he bulled were second calvers, meaning they were some of the smaller cows in the herd. Luckily, we had decided to hang on to him to see how the spring calves did, so his pardon is not a posthumous one.

Our out-wintered livestock have had a most miserable winter. Although we have them on the lightest of land near the shore, they have still had to put up with the constant rain and wind. The calves all look healthy enough, but they have had to put a lot more energy than usual into keeping warm.

We will know at weaning time how much it has affected them, though it certainly feels like the lambs are taking a lot longer to finish than usual – perhaps that is helping to keep the price moving in the right direction.

In other, happier news, there are some exciting initiatives going on in my neck of the woods. One is a topical project by Rory Dowell, a recent Napier energy engineering graduate, who is looking to use 100% wind and solar power to cold store potatoes on the family farm. I am sure he will secure the grant funding he is looking for from Innovate UK.

The really innovative part is the use of phase change materials to store cooling energy from the solar panels, which can be released at night when the panels are not working.

Phase change materials absorb or release heat as they undergo a change from solid to liquid state or vice versa. This is cheaper than batteries and it could help move cold storage to a net zero carbon footprint.

If this winter’s weather is an indicator of what climate change is going to look like for us on these islands, we need much more of these genius ideas ... and fast.