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Farm Structure


The total area of agricultural holdings in Scotland was 5.6 million hectares, equating to 73 per cent of Scotland's total land area (7.8 million hectares).


The distribution of agricultural area between holdings in Scotland is highly skewed, with a relatively small number of very large holdings accounting for a high proportion of the area. Nine per cent of holdings accounted for 76 per cent of land (4,540 holdings of 200 hectares or over in size, with 4.31 million hectares of area between them). Conversely, 52 per cent of holdings accounted for 1.6 per cent of the total land (26,830 holdings of less than ten hectares in size, with 90,530 hectares of land). These patterns can be seen by comparing the two charts below.

Large holdings, of 200 hectares and over, were most prevalent in Scottish Borders (23 per cent of all holdings in the Scottish Borders), Argyll and Bute (20 per cent) and Tayside (14 per cent). Just over half (55 per cent) of holdings over 200 hectares were cattle & sheep (LFA) farms with extensive areas of rough grazing.

Smaller holdings, of under ten hectares, were prevalent in Na h-Eileanan Siar (83 per cent of their holdings) and Highland (62 per cent), reflecting the high number of small farms and crofts in these areas.

Chart : Number of holdings by region and holding size, June 2016

Farms by region and size

Chart : Agricultural area by region and holding size, June 2016

Farm size by region


The maps below also demonstrate how the farm size distribution differs across Scotland, with the average size of a holding away from the coast and the central belt being over 200 hectares, and a high proportion of holdings on the north-west coast and in Eileanan An Iar and Skye being of less than 20 hectares.

Average farm size 2016

Proportion of farms less than 20ha





Agricultural holdings are classified into farm types. There are eleven basic farm types (cereals, general cropping, horticulture & permanent crops, specialist pigs, specialist poultry, dairy, cattle & sheep (LFA), lowland cattle & sheep, mixed, forage, and other).

The most common farm type in 2015 was 'general cropping; forage' which totalled 22,306 holdings. This was followed by cattle & sheep (LFA) (14,546 holdings) and mixed holdings (5,322). Lowland cattle & sheep and cereal farms were fairly prevalent (with around 2,500 holdings each). General cropping and poultry farms numbered around 1,000 each, while horticulture and pig holdings were the least common farm types.

Farm type by parish 2016

The chart below shows that farm size distribution also varied within each farm type. The majority of specialist poultry (87 per cent), pigs (76 per cent), horticulture (71 per cent), forage (69 per cent) and mixed holdings (64 per cent) were below ten hectares in size. With the exception of mixed and forage, this trend is largely associated with the intensive nature of production among these farm types.

Chart : Specialist farm types by holding size , June 2016

Farm type by size 2016

The majority of dairy (92 per cent), general cropping (73 per cent) and cereal (53 per cent) holdings were 50 hectares or greater in size, reflecting the tendency of activity in these sectors to be carried out by larger producers.



Information on tractors is collected every year in the December Survey, while data on other machinery was, in the past, collected in alternate years, though this has now changed. The data relate only to the larger agricultural holdings that are surveyed in December. The results represent approximately 23,200 holdings, or 91 per cent of agricultural land.

When considering trends in machinery, it should be noted that a large amount of agricultural work is done using contractors and their machinery, and these may not necessarily be included within the survey responses.



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