Whether it’s controlling sheep scab, removing weeds, or preparing for silage, it’s always best to have a well-thought-out plan.

This week’s shocking statistic on tups with scab heading to Shetland should be enough for the entire industry to sit up and take note. While it may be too bold to claim that 8% of Scotland’s rams are scratching with scab, clearly the issue is growing, and further action is needed before the countryside is swarming with this wicked disease.

An honest approach and working with neighbours are the only ways to prevent more draconian rules from coming into force. Resistance has been found with the current injectables, and Moredun’s vaccine not yet on the market, so a program of testing and treating is needed if we want a chance to get on top. Before long, we could need flock declarations if cases continue to spiral.

Our disease and weed special this week offers tips and advice for crops planted in a wet autumn with little let-up in rainfall over the darker months. Plant protection products are vital if we are to produce enough food and drink for the world, but so is ensuring crops have all the necessary nutrients available. Science is making great leaps in mapping alongside plant and soil analysis, which will result in ever-increasing dovetailing between inputs and plant needs. But the technology needs to be priced accordingly, or it simply won’t be an option when farmers are selling barley at £140/t.

The same holds true for livestock farmers preparing for silage, as we remember to put back what we remove from the soil. There are a few green shoots of optimism in the milk trade, with price rises announced from some of the processors, which will be needed as we near the spring flush and increased supply.

Meanwhile, farmers are hoping some of the Red Tractor rules receive a different kind of flush, as lobbying organisations want changes with the assurance body. The UK farming Unions only continue to support the ‘basic objectives,’ and Red Tractor must rebuild trust with farmers and growers. Assurance bodies need to remember that their number one obligation is to implement the will of assurance members.

It is never easy understanding the needs of large groups of people, a lesson heading for the Scottish Government as it needs to pick which of the five suggestions will make the next national park. Even the minister behind all this, Lorna Slater, is struggling to sell the concept to rural workers. More red tape is the last thing needed in the countryside. Businesses need to be in the black long before they can contribute towards going green.