This month's column is a tale of two harvests and two logistics. Whilst the Scottish harvest was a good one for winter crops by all accounts, many spring barley crops suffered from uneven ripening.

After a dry June, later rains followed recruiting secondary green tillers as crops were tricked into thinking further potential could be filled. Oat crops have suffered from their loss of minority crop status allowing a wider range of products "off label." Weed control options in particular are much more limited.

What a boon glyphosate proved itself to be yet again to even up crops and reduce drying costs and CO² emissions. What a lot of nonsense has been talked about this valuable part of our farming toolkit by vested interest lawyers, chasing imaginary ambulances, and the ignorant who have never toiled in the fields. As well as harvest aid this unsung hero also plays a key role in regenerative farming.

An old friend of ours in Ukraine, I recall an early order for 30t, it helped us to regenerate hundreds of thousands of hectares after abandoned neglect. Good to see Therese finally smelling the Coffey and proclaiming its safety and important role in modern farming at the recent NFU conference.

As crop protection product approvals are not a devolved, but a UK matter this safeguards its use for us north of the border too. Protecting us from at least one of the ravages Lorna Slater is intent on inflicting on both our industry and wider food security as a whole. Both through a lack of understanding and an unwillingness to learn from those who do. Another good example is ignorance and narrow-mindedness on gene editing. Food security matters.

There is a wide range of harvest problems around the world, but not always in the way one might expect. Despite the constant doom-scrolling on many media outlets they are often not as predicted, nor climate "crisis" related. In Brazil and US, the problems of low prices are due to bumper harvests, from less cropped land, not climate catastrophe. A record corn harvest is predicted in the US of almost 390m tonnes, depressing prices and farmers. With the harvest completed in Brazil and a new drilling campaign due to get into swing very shortly, the "problem" is again one of the high yields depressing prices, and challenging logistics, not a climate-depressed one.

Very high Brazilian corn production has put huge pressure on port facilities and storage, making Brazil the largest global corn exporter. The lack of transport and storage for this bumper crop has depressed prices locally for the farmer by $50-60/t compared to world market prices big hit worth $billions. The storage and export companies reap the benefit of this by buying low from price-taking farmers and selling high on exporting. A bonanza for them but a budget deficit for the grower. The shortage of long-term storage is a major issue for growers, many of whom are making use of shorter-term huge silo bag storage.

This is a relatively short-term fix due to eventual spoilage, making them forced sellers in a depressed logistic-challenged market. The big question for many growers now moving into the new soybean drilling campaign there is do they grow their usual second (safrina) crop of corn after the soybean crop they are about to drill? Many lost money or barely broke even on this second crop this season, despite good yields. The pincer movement of lower, but still too high, input prices and depressed corn prices, with an upcoming overhanging record US corn harvest is taxing resolve. Forcing farmers to consider the previously unthinkable of only growing one crop this coming season and not speculating on safrina. Low corn prices and record corn production will obviously affect the other cereal markets such as our own wheat and barley adversely on price.

The rise of El Nino conditions this coming season will increase rainfall in Brazil and create drought in Australia. My Tasmanian friends tell me there are already dry conditions and bushfires there. Although these fires are much less damaging than previously controlled "cool" burns following ancient aboriginal practices are now being made under new regulations to reduce fuel for wildfires. This also benefits flora and fauna, as it has evolved over millennia under this ancient burn culture. The misguided "green" policies of neglect have been sensibly reversed to allow cultural burns.

This misguided "green" management was also a major factor in the tragic Maui fires in the Pacific. Who would have thought a policy of (mis)managed neglect building up a stockpile of fuel under sparking power lines would have led to a fire hazard? Yet another example of a lack of joined-up thinking from deskbound "green" legislators. The appalling flood tragedy in Libya was less about climate change and more about the neglect and mismanagement of two dams and uncontrolled buildings in a floodplain. Arrests are now made. This is coupled with local government telling people to stay in their homes when a severe flood risk.

We are still at a global historical all-time low in deaths from natural climatic disasters, despite those with vested political or monetary interests pretending otherwise. Speaking as an environmental scientist with a lifetime of "skin in the game" I believe Mitigation, good management, sensible joined-up policies, and technology are far more important than knee-jerk reactions, climate reparations, poor ill-conceived energy policies, and demonising of fossil fuels, that have given and continue to give us so much. Speaking as a renewable energy pioneer in the developing world I believe the future is still largely fossil, despite the misguided theatrics of Just Stop Oil campaigners.

Evidence continues to mount that UK and EU politicians have rushed into a monumentally significant and costly policy agenda, whilst having little detailed idea of what it will mean in practice, how much money it will entail spending, and whether the new technologies will be ready in time. No impact assessment on Net Zero policy has been carried out by the UK Government on the proposed £trillions to be spent, a shocking state of affairs. There have been 7 UK PMs trumpeting the world lead the UK will have on carbon capture and yet 7 Prime Ministers later there are still zero viable carbon capture projects. Remember Salmond's "Saudi Arabia of renewables" bilge? Sunak now backtracking more for votes than resolve.

Meanwhile, across the globe, the ending of the Black Sea export agreement by Putin's grain blackmail has put stress on exports, with a high Russian harvest predicted whilst a depressed Ukranian cereal harvest down from 81mt in 2021 to barely 50mt this year is likely. The strategic importance of Crimea, previously the only all-round warm weather port on the entire Soviet coastline, has become less viable. This is due to recent Ukrainian missile attacks on Sevastapol destroying two Ruzzian ships in dry dock. This retaliation, along with drone strikes on Moscow and military targets well into Ruzzia, has changed the face of the war with the next phase being a war of drone attrition on infrastructure by drone swarms from both sides. Several of our drone-trained agronomists now run drone teams-ploughshares into swords. Power generating targets this winter for Ruzzia and attrition of military infrastructure and supply lines for Ukraine. When I warned last column that Pryghozin should stay away from windows I didn't imagine that would include aircraft windows.

Despite calls from quarters as diverse as the West and China and mediation efforts by Turkey and the UN, the chances of renewing the grain deal between Russia and Ukraine are realistically very slim. Quite simply, neither Moscow nor Kyiv has sufficient incentive to reanimate the agreement facilitating Ukrainian grain exports via the country’s Black Sea ports, following Russia’s withdrawal from the deal back in July. Far more likely are further escalations in the Black Sea and growing global grain prices, which had until recently dropped sharply. Heating up the export restraints on Ukrainian exports by Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary will not ease the situation. The unrest caused by pro-Russian Serbian agents and pro-Russian Slovakian parties bears the hallmark of Putin.

Our potato harvest near Lviv is in full swing and yields are good, despite late planting and a dry summer. Clods are an issue but so far bruising from them has not been excessive, just too much soil going into the store. Starch contents are good on our starch varieties but there is still bulk to be gained yet by delaying harvesting. French fries are in huge demand Europe-wide, distorting markets and spring planting intentions. Seed may be scarce next year. More locally Potatoes in Practice at JHI Dundee was a great success with over 600 attendees. The SSCR Committee recently visited the hugely impressive International Barley Hub and Advanced Plant Growth Centre at JHI. This huge investment will help to maintain JHI's global crop reputation, to the benefit of growers for decades to come.

Some of the Ukrainian grain production gaps will be made up by last autumn's increased oilseed rape plantings, but local prices are depressed and autumn drilling's down again due to the same input/output pincer and lack of cashflow, as in Brazil, where the war is not impacting so directly with munitions and mining. Russian minefields are putting a new and macabre spin on "plant" counts per m² with up to 11 mines per m²! A devastating task to clear which will impact for decades post-war. Russians have taken to planting one mine on top of another.

When one mine is removed the second detonates to maim and ruin, not only a life, but a whole economy downstream, with hospital care and rehabilitation costs. I have a couple of good married national team orienteering friends in Kyiv. One is a trained physiotherapist, Oksana, working hard, not only on sports injuries but also helping to rehabilitate young maimed lives. Her husband Viktor is now engaged, not in sports training youth, but in training military drone squad navigation techniques to overcome Russian GPS jamming. I met them recently in the Czech at the World Champs. Ukrainians see the maintenance of as much normal life as possible, as an act of resistance and resilience. Their resolve is humbling. In typical black wartime Ukrainian humour they joked their brief athletic trip representing their country was "sleep tourism" after eighteen months of nights disturbed by missile alerts and drone attacks. We experience this in our Air Raid BnB on visits.

Our PickupsforPeace vehicles are often used to transport mine-clearing teams every day to clear this deadly unwanted harvest from the black-rich soils. They also aid air defence, drone teams, and medical and fire service teams to save lives. As you read this our charity and the 70 or so heroic drivers from the UK will have delivered our latest and largest convoy ever to the warzone. This means we will have achieved our second major target of 200 vehicles with supplies, including many trauma kits to save the lives of both civilians and military savaged by indiscriminate Russian mining.

The delay in the right military aid from the West has been costly for the youth of Ukraine and reduced the speed of the latest offensive. The delay allowed the Russians to prepare deeper and more deadly defenses, whilst Western bureaucrats dithered over the need for air and long-range artillery support. These delays cost lives and slowed advances, which in only a few weeks will be halted by the Ukrainian mud and winter. Western political delay slowed the offensive and now will move over the winter to a war of attrition. The West is not yet on an industrial footing to compete as sanction busting through third parties like India, China, Turkey, and the Stans is rife, allowing valuable imports of chips and other war hardware needed by the Russians.

The recent meetings between Putin/Kim are a symptom of this, with shells for submarine technology deal no doubt having been agreed. As well as grain for its malnourished population N Korea also requires submarine technology to carry its missile capability. As noted previously the destabilisation of the South China Sea, critical for global trade, is a real threat and Putin wants this to weaken Western resources by spreading the tension, and even war, wider. This will affect grain trade and food security and widen the impact on other global trade if it's allowed to happen. The answer is not appeasement to a regime that lies and breaks agreements to suit itself, but a greater effort to supply more powerful weaponry to Ukraine to finish the job more quickly and decisively. This will save many more lives in the long run, not only in Ukraine, but wider afield due to food security and famine. Current and upcoming, but entirely avoidable, famines will be political in nature not climatic. It is our choice to protect this generation and the generations to come.

Backing a full and unambiguous Ukrainian victory is essential, not just on moral, but also practical grounds. Recent increases in Western supplies of munitions and other hardware are welcome, but the fundamental solution to many of the problems remains. It is not Ukrainian will that limited summer advanced but Western delay. Ukraine still needs a massive influx of weaponry. Without it, Ukraine will cease to exist as a sovereign nation. An emboldened Russia will continue its imperialist campaign of expansionism against neighbours and aggression against perceived adversaries, democratic and otherwise, the world over. In the longer term, our support of Ukraine will serve to deter other aggressors, while potentially sowing the seeds for positive political change in Russia.

Sad to say that, while technically true that all wars end at the negotiating table, the terms & influence over the negotiation are set on a battlefield. The side with the best military position has the best hand at the negotiating table. Food security and farm incomes are only two of the many areas that depend on a correct and effective resolution of this tragic and unnecessary war.