Publication - Research and analysis

Arable Farmer-led Group: climate change evidence

Published: 20 Dec 2021

A summary of existing evidence around the arable sector, including greenhouse gas emissions produced by the Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services (RESAS) division.

Arable Farmer-led Group: climate change evidence
Annex E – Productivity Measures – long list

Annex E – Productivity Measures – long list

Measures for Improving Performance – Information Sharing
Measure Logic behind intervention Potential barriers Feasibility in Scotland
Farm advisory service Studies have found high rates of return on public investment in applied advice. Existing in the SRDP - could be extended
Farmer discussion groups Studies have found high rates of return on public investment in applied advice. Lack of strong evidence; depends on method and context. Can be encouraged
Support for farmer learning Support for new entrants and for continued professional development likely to increase adoption of new technologies and management practices. Low turnover in farming. Can be implemented
Agriculture education Apprenticeships, college and university courses have improved the level of specialist knowledge among farmers in other countries. Low turnover in farming. Can be implemented
Required qualifications Some countries have created "license to farm" to ensure continuous improvement of current farming systems, including environmental goals. May be politically unpopular. Can be implemented
Support for Research and Development Research suggests that reduction of government support for R&D in the 1980s had a negative impact on productivity. Must be strategic, targeted, and adopted by farmers. Can be implemented
Demonstration farms Some evidence to support that farmers who attend improve practice on their own farms. Unclear how it would impact farmers at scale. Relatively untested
Smart farms Have been used in Australia to implement cutting edge technologies. Potential high costs. None existing in Scotland
Monitor farms Evaluation suggests the model has been effective in improving farming performance and enterprise among active participants. Potential high costs. Existing - could be extended
Measures for Improving Performance – Financial Schemes
Measure Logic behind intervention Potential barriers Feasibility in Scotland
Reduction in direct support Most studies find a negative relationship between subsidies and productivity.
May lead to significant restructuring in agriculture, particularly for smaller/more vulnerable farms.
Likely to have negative political impacts; may lead to further "middling out". Can be implemented; may not be feasible due to Scottish agricultural context
Capital grants or loans Studies find both positive and negative impacts on productivity: increased ability to innovate/develop business; low risk and potential crowding out. Loans may be more effective due to requirement to pay back. May not be WTO eligible; may lead to overcapitalisation. Can be implemented; limited by WTO rules
Support for new entrants Younger entrants may have more innovative approaches to business, and may have stronger ICT and business planning skills. Lack of retirement housing; lack of long leases for farmland. Existing in the SRDP - could be extended
Support for exit There are barriers to succession, meaning less productive management can continue longer than in other industries. Lack of retirement housing; lack of business planning and succession. Can be implemented
Changing tax incentives Evidence from Ireland suggests that tax incentives for longer tenancies on agricultural land may increase productivity. Potential high costs, both financial and administrative. Can be implemented
Measures for Improving Performance – Established Technologies
Measure Logic behind intervention Potential barriers Feasibility in Scotland
Precision Agricultural Techniques Evidence suggests some PATs can reduce fuel use and management time; there is a training requirement for farmers. High initial costs; high training requirement; lack of take-up by farmers. Needs wider adoption
Nutrient management and soil nutrient mapping Promising in increasing yield and additional benefits in managing GHG emissions Lack of take-up by farmers. Needs wider adoption
Improved soil management For example, nutrient management and mapping; reduced cultivations to increase soil quality. Lack of take-up by farmers. Needs wider adoption
Robotic Milkers More effective for larger herds and potential for growth; there is a training requirement. Lack of take-up by farmers. Can be encouraged
EID Appears to give significant savings in labour use. High initial costs; lack of take-up by farmers. Needs wider adoption
EBVs; pedigree recording Studies suggest EBVs can increase profitability of livestock farms. High initial costs; lack of take-up by farmers. Needs wider adoption
Changing cereal yields and varietal uptake Improved crop yields have not been consistent across Scottish farms; it is not clear why this is so. Lack of take-up by farmers. Further research required
Measures for Improving Performance – Management Changes
Measure Logic behind intervention Potential barriers Feasibility in Scotland
Precision livestock farming Targeted precision livestock farming has potential to increase net margins per animal. High initial costs; lack of take-up by farmers. Needs wider adoption
Changing business size Large farms tend to be more efficient and better adopters of new technology. Politically unpopular "middling out" Can be encouraged
Collaborative farming agreements May be of particular benefit to new entrants, through increased availability of land. Existing - could be extended
Disease control and eradication Reduces loss and improves productivity. Existing - could be extended
Risk management Investment in productivity should be accompanied by steps to manage and reduce risk. Could reduce incentive to innovate. Can be implemented
Changing the input-output mix Switching from specialised farms to more mixed operations may offer opportunities for recycling of inputs, and best use of land. High training requirement for farmers. Can be encouraged
Widen the range of planted crops A wider range of crops could diffuse the intensity of work and machinery requirements over the course of the year. High training requirement for farmers. Further research required

Contact

Email: are.futureruralframework@gov.scot