Continuing Wet Weather adds to Scottish gloom

WHILE RUNNING what he believes has been an efficient operation to date, Ian Moncrieff has few illusions about the way ahead at Berry Hill Farm, Dundee.

Still grappling to lift the last of his potatoes after a spell of wet weather, he is particularly concerned about the impact of higher energy costs on arable inputs against the relatively low output prices of anything the 456ha (1130 acre) unit can produce.

“It would appear that most of the efficiencies that we have made on the farm for the past 5-6 years have been completely eroded by low commodity prices.

“In the long term, it is not a rosy picture because every input we are signing cheques for is going up, as many are based on the price of oil. “We need to get more out of the market-place.”

That was the main reason for increasing the area of unsupported crops such as broccoli and cauliflowers in recent years, he says.

But after 60% of his 8ha (20 acres) of cauliflowers were passed over by the market and some of the first-time 24ha (60 acres) of broccoli yielded poorly mid-season after too little summer sunshine, he finds it hard to remain optimistic.

“East of Scotland growers are going to look more closely at the contracts, but I have still left two fields ear-marked for veg next year.”