No pain no grain: history of the mighty combine

August 17, 2019

Harvesting is under way in many parts of the country as farmers reap what they sowed in the age-old season of hope and hard work. While the tensions of the season remain ever present, the harvesting technology seeks to lighten the load. Pete Small looks back to some of its origins


Scottish grain yields in 11% slump

December 15, 2016

The Scottish Government's final estimates for harvest 2016 confirm disappointing yields with the amount of cereals produced down 11% on last year and 5% below the 10-year average. Figures from Scotland's chief statistician reveal Scottish farmers produced 2.8million tonnes of cereals in the year, including 1.6million tonnes of barley and 900,000 tonnes of wheat. There had been no catastrophic weather condition responsible for the drop in production, but instead “less than ideal factors affecting the seedbed, growing conditions and the final harvest". There was an 8% fall in overall cereal yields to an average of 2.59 tonnes per acre, ranging from 2.18 tonnes per acre for spring barley to 3.39 tonnes per acre for wheat. This was against a 3% decrease in the area of land sown for cereals to 1.057million acres. Spring barley production was at its lowest level since 1997 and down 15% on 2015 to 1.3million tonnes. Winter barley production is also down 19% to 329,000 tonnes, while wheat is back 9% to 926,000 tonnes. Production of oats increased to 200,000 tonnes – the first increase since the 1970s. It was a “particularly poor year" for oilseed rape with yields averaging 1.33 tonnes per acre resulting in the lowest production since records began in 1992, at 102,000 tonnes.


My Younger Days – Part Three

December 2, 2016

George Smith, 81, was brought up in Aberdeenshire. He lived and worked on many farms in the area in his youth. This is the third and final part of a letter he wrote about the places where he lived in his younger days.