'The very high input costs and certainly for me the “average” yields attained are minor in that the prices needed to cover those high inputs are very concerning.'

WHAT a feast of sports we have been having, rugby, golf, football and some brilliant results to date. I mention that purely out of self interest as when the countries sportsmen and women do well sales of beer etc. goes up impacting on sales of wheat and barley at farm level in a positive way. Long may it continue.

The first days of October are here, and the very mixed weather pattern still lingers with a hoped-for “Indian Summer” possibly too late for some.

Harvest for us started on the 19th of July and finished on the last day of August pretty quickly by any standards and achieved by having two simple rules 1. Never miss a chance and 2. Never miss a chance.

These rules are non-negotiable and accepted by all who surround me and have been instilled at a very young and impressionable age.

This has sometimes led to difficult conversations with my nearest and dearest, but they know that I will be unlivable if the weather does not allow movement for what can be weeks, but this is the job we do, and especially for Scottish farmers the “catchy” and “stop-start” harvest just experienced.

Also, at the time of writing still, quite a lot of harvest still to be won, certainly, barley in the upper reaches of Aberdeenshire and my near neighbour has a significant acreage of beans awaiting the knife.

It would appear that our buyers have been on the whole pragmatic regarding skinning’s and nitrogen, I know there are some exceptions to that and the whole financial picture will perhaps still not be very pretty reading.

The very high input costs and certainly for me the “average” yields attained are minor in that the prices needed to cover those high inputs are very concerning.

Sure, I sold some forward when expensive fertiliser was bought at what is now a very good price but that is always a worry as if the yields aren’t there then the contract has to be fulfilled, remembering that the sale took place before the seed was in the ground. Absolutely fine in a year when prices drop but if it flips the other way some severe financial pain will ensue.

As we are a winter cropping farm the pedal was still pushed firmly down to get all OSR, Oats, Winter Barley, and Wheat in the ground and that was achieved by the last days of September so a veritable oasis now and wondering what the fuss is was about but the toll on everyone and everything has been high so a time to reflect and rest is now required.

That reflective mood has me thinking on the acronym AI which in my early days working with dairy cattle the definition was universally known certainly in Agri circles as of course Artificial Insemination a skill that I learned as a young herdsman.

AI today has two more meanings, both of which have a massive impact on our industry. Avian Influenza and Artificial Intelligence.

Avian flu is catastrophic for our domestic and wild flocks as we know and another winter of problems for our poultry and egg producers is certainly on the cards.

But it’s Artificial intelligence that I want to explore as it has the potential to revolutionise agriculture and bring numerous benefits to farmers and the industry as a whole.

AI can be used to analyse vast amounts of data collected from sensors, drones, satellites, and other sources to provide valuable insights and optimise agricultural practices.

For example, AI can help farmers make data-driven decisions about irrigation, fertiliser, and pest control, leading to improved crops and resource efficiency.

Probably also assists in crop disease detection monitoring and targeting, enabling early intervention and minimising crop losses. AI-powered robots can be utilised for precise and autonomous farming operations, such as planting, harvesting, and weeding. Overall, AI has the power to enhance productivity, sustainability, and profitability in the sector.

The trick will be in keeping the data and not letting “big business” cream off the benefits as I suspect has already happened in some instances.

The long-awaited Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill to give it its Sunday title as the Rural Communities part is often forgotten, was published late last week and I’m assured it's not too big a read – that can be a positive and a negative!

The Bill itself has been described (before the publication) by those more familiar than myself with this type of document as dull and bland and will have necessary “proposed powers” so midnight oil will be being burned as I write by all interested organisations to tease out the problem areas and hopefully endorse those that fit agendas.

Having just had an ARIOB meeting on the day of publication I do feel that we are gaining traction and being listened to. The improved language and content from the officials' not-inconsiderable work that has gone on behind the scenes has certainly given me reason for optimism. But as always, the devil will be in the detail.

The words of a senior official still leave me a little cold: “Andrew, the Board advises - the Minister decides”.

Which is I suppose that is as it should be, but it will be incumbent on us all to review and comment to ensure a good outcome in the coming months so that when Parliament votes on these powers the “good options” from a practical ag viewpoint are not watered down.

Perhaps we should let Artificial Intelligence decide rather than 129 MSPs as certainly the science will not be forgotten with dogma and so-called green agendas not being part of this emerging tool.