Robbie Newlands: 'The drop in the yield this year may feel bigger'

In your fieldArable FarmingHarvest

On September 3, I, along with several other local farmers, helped our NFU Scotland regional manager Ian Wilson with a lamb promotion at Inverness Market.


We were handing out lamb rolls to the public, the lamb having been supplied by Ian and cooked on a spit by another local farmer and butcher, Steven Forbes.


Almost all the people I spoke to were supportive of local food, but a few were less keen on the lamb in their roll. But once they had tried it, most were pleasantly surprised at how much they enjoyed it.


I don’t suppose we will have changed the shopping habits of many people we contacted, but at least we have tried and highlighted lamb to a few more of the general public.


At home, lambs are coming on quickly and have definitely benefited from the cobalt bolus they were given at the start of July. Their skins are a lot tighter and they have much more spark than they had.


They have also benefited from sun which has finally made an appearance after a pretty miserable summer.


The last couple of weeks have been glorious, ever since the kids went back to school the sun has shone and the race is now on to get harvest before the next school holidays.


As I look enviously down the hill at my more arable neighbours, who have almost finished harvest, we have been spraying off our barley, with the first fields now almost ready to harvest. I am hoping the settled spell lasts for a while longer.


Most reports are suggesting yields are down by 0.2 tonnes/hectare (0.5t/acre) and straw is short. The last two years were very good harvests, at least in this area, so the drop in yield this year may feel bigger.


The uncertain grain market has encouraged a number of people in our area to build gas plants and move into energy production, with large areas of cereals having been replaced with forage rye and fodder beet to feed the digesters.


The reduction in the area of cereals, coupled with a lower yield of straw on cereals which have been grown, will make straw for livestock and bedding-down carrot crops tight locally. There is always an opportunity for someone.

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