Publication - Research and analysis

Hill, Upland and Crofting Farmer-led Group: climate change evidence

Published: 20 Dec 2021

A summary of existing evidence around Hill, Upland and Crofting (HUC) farming, including greenhouse gas emissions produced by the Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services (RESAS) division.

Hill, Upland and Crofting 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