So, the 2021 harvest has come to an end – probably the easiest harvest I ever remember, with pretty near perfect conditions for combining and dealing with straw. As I mentioned last week, the oilseed rape is sown for next year’s harvest, with slug pellets applied. We have only just finished the beans, so I have no clear view on the final yield, but I am pretty certain that the initial promise of the crop has not been fulfilled.

Early establishment and growth had been excellent, but the pods didn’t go up the plant and fill out as you would like to see in a high-yielding bean crop.

We have finished ours early, so I intend to have a look at a few neighbouring crops and compare notes.

This year, unlike last year, there were no disastrous crops, with the oats, beans and wheat all far ahead in establishment and performance. Whether we got the full potential out of them is another question.

The cattle trade of 2021 continues to be unusual, to say the least. As we go through September, we are well into what we always regarded as the backend, with prices traditionally weakening week-on-week – that is not the case this year.

We still have lots of grass for grazing and have some land allocated for a third cut of silage, which we intend to take next week. While this is the first full year of our dairy beef system, the results have been distorted by the general cattle price increase that has taken place since buying in, so the actual farm profitability won’t be clear until we have finished buying in.

On a different topic entirely, like many farmers over the last number of years, I was approached by a solar company offering to lease land to put in solar panels to generate electricity.

Initially, when it became clear that land under solar panels would not qualify as agricultural land for capital acquisitions tax purposes, I dropped the idea, but then the legislation was changed and the discussions restarted, which resulted in me giving a company a five-year option. With the recent climate change legislation, the drive for “green energy“ and the shortage of generation capacity in the country, due in part to the colossal data centre demand, my solar project has taken on a new lease of life with intensive discussions taking place. We will wait and see how these develop.

In truth, like many farmers, I suspect I have mixed feeling about the prospect of a solar farm around the place, but the annual payment on offer is far higher than a normal farming enterprise is going to produce and farming has always been associated with the production of food, fuel and fibre, so perhaps we are just reinventing the wheel of multiple land uses.