Scottish agricultural survey: December 2016

Annual agricultural survey based on data from larger agricultural holdings together with estimates for smaller farms.

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2. Introduction

This publication contains results from the 2016 December Agricultural Survey, covering winter-sown crops, hay and silage production, livestock and machinery. It provides commentary and graphics on the latest annual changes, and trends over the past ten years, together with comparisons with June Census results.

Unlike the June Census, which collects results covering all agricultural holdings in Scotland, the results of the December Survey are derived from a representative sample of larger agricultural holdings only, involving about 15,000 holdings, and do not cover smaller agricultural holdings at all. These smaller agricultural holdings are generally those of less than one hectare in size, and in the June 2016 census accounted for only 9.3 per cent of agricultural land.

The results in this publication have, however, been scaled up to include an estimate for the smaller holdings (except where stated), in order that full comparison can be made with data from the June Agricultural Census.

For the second year, the December survey was merged with the Sheep and Goat Annual Inventory ( SGAI). The Inventory goes to all sheep and goat keepers, and so any keepers not included in the December Survey sample were required to complete a separate form covering sheep and goat numbers. Therefore, in addition to sheep and goat data collected through December Survey forms, an additional 10,000 holdings were asked about sheep and goat data only, meaning sheep numbers are now fully representative. As usual, the cattle data are also obtained from the British Cattle Movement Service, giving a fully representative figure.

The surveys were again available online. This year, those who were using online SAF completion were sent email notification of the survey, rather than a paper form. However, if the online form was not initially completed, a paper form was sent as a reminder. Of those returning the December Survey or the Sheep and Goat Inventory, 33 per cent completed it online, compared with 13 per cent last year.

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