Crop areas and sheep numbers increase in latest farm census

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

The latest set of figures on farming in Scotland shows increases in cereals, potatoes and sheep, but cattle numbers were down slightly. There was a small increase in the area rented, but the area of secure tenancies decreased.

The Scottish Government’s Chief Statistician today released the results from the June 2017 Agricultural Census.

There was an overall increase in area of cereals of 7,500 hectares (two per cent), with barley up 4,400 hectares (two per cent). The area of wheat remained similar to last year, with oats increasing by 1,400 hectares. Fallow land decreased by 4,500 hectares (ten per cent) to 38,500 hectares.

Oilseed saw an increase of 3,500 hectares (11 per cent) and potatoes saw a small increase, of 1,800 hectares (six per cent) to 29,000 hectares. There were also increases in the area of vegetables for human consumption (eight per cent), and of fruit (ten per cent). However, the area of crops for stock-feed decreased again slightly (three per cent).

Sheep numbers increased for the fourth consecutive year, up 160,000 (two per cent) to 7 million, though that is still lower than in 2008. Cattle numbers decreased again slightly, to 1.78 million, continuing a longer-term decline in numbers since the 1970s. Both dairy and beef numbers were down slightly.

The changes in pig and poultry numbers were small. Pig numbers fell slightly by 4,300 (one per cent) to 326,000. Overall, poultry numbers increased slightly by 182,000 (one per cent), with an increase in layers to 6.8 million (up eight per cent). The number of broilers fell four per cent to 6.2 million.

There were 67,000 people employed on agricultural holdings. This was up 3,600 on 2016.

The proportion of land rented was 23 per cent, very slightly up on 2016, with a fall in 91 Act secure land (tenancy and partnership) of about 51,000 hectares and an increase in Short Duration Limited Tenancy (SDLT) or Limited Duration Tenancy (LDT) land of about 63,000 hectares. An estimated 6,432 holdings had tenancy arrangements, down 160 on last year.

About 80 per cent of the area of Scotland is agricultural land, in 51,400 agricultural holdings.


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2.            These statistics are used by government and stakeholders to monitor and assess the economic well-being of the agricultural sector and for policy evaluation, and to fulfil statutory requirements for the European Commission. Further information on Agriculture and Fisheries statistics within Scotland can be accessed at:

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