I read in the yellow farmers’ comic that the list price of a certain new combine harvester has crossed the £1m mark.

Yes, if a John Deere X9 1100 ProDrive XL Tracks with a 15.2 metre header (that’s 50ft) is on your list for next harvest, you’ll need to be good for well over €1m, after discount. Of course, if you have something decent to trade against the green beast it’d help, but you’d need an awful lot of auld Claas 106s or Case 1660s.

Will there be any sold in Ireland? You couldn’t rule it out. Which brings me conveniently to a story that’s been on my mind for some time.

However, I’m not a well-travelled man, in terms of world agriculture (or indeed in any other terms) so, in that sense, I’m not qualified to make the following big statement. But that never stopped me before, so here goes.

I really believe that Irish tillage farmers must be some of the best in the world. They are extraordinarily resilient and progressive.

It’s not particularly easy being an Irish tillage farmer. Land rents are high and there is ever reducing availability due to competition with the burgeoning dairy sector.

Equally, a lot of prime tillage land has been lost forever to large solar farms and the potato and vegetable sectors are being continually pulped by the supermarkets.

But I’m more thinking of the good yields and the quality of the work tillage farmers do, often in tough conditions. There has been a huge improvement in the last 10 years in this regard.

They’ve embraced new technology, whether it be in new chemistry, new establishment systems and, of course, the tillage farmer’s favourite, new machinery.

An outsider looking in would probably say we are now actually over capacity in terms of our national tillage machinery inventory

The TAMS has been a big help with regard to sprayers, spreaders and soil-working machinery. It must kill the Greens in Government to be grant-aiding sprayers, but I love it.

An outsider looking in would probably say we are now actually over capacity in terms of our national tillage machinery inventory. A British farmer might laugh at having a 25ft combine to harvest 600ac, but what do they know?

If you can justify a machinery upgrade in your own mind and you’re making money, then why not? If it gets the work done more quickly, as timing is everything, then it has to be good. You need to make the most of short weather windows. It’s always been this way, even a hundred years ago.

In that lovely book, Corduroy, set in Suffolk in the 1920s, there’s a memorable passage where the very timely and capable farmer, John Colville, has his tractor-powered harvest all wound up in September and he and Mrs C and the apprentice head off for the day to the seaside. I’d do the same myself, but I’d leave the apprentice at home.

However, on the way, he sees his easy-going and lax father-in-law, Mr Debden, pulling his horse-drawn broken binders out of the nettles and only beginning his harvest.

Naturally, this goes down badly with the master farmer Colville, who quips that he won’t be finished by Christmas. I re-read Corduroy after harvest every year with a sense of comfort and wellbeing.

Now, assuming some tillage farmers read this column, you are now in the Colville camp and one of the guys I’m talking about.

The Debdens of Irish tillage farming have almost entirely gone and the small but hugely important tillage sector is in very competent hands.

But I think a John Deere X9 1100 ProDrive XL Tracks would be overkill for me. It’s not the size that’s the problem – it’s a smashing idea to wipe the harvest in four days.

No – what’s killing me is that it’s a John Deere.