Publication - Statistics

Results from the Scottish Agricultural Census: June 2021

Final results from the 2021 June Agricultural Census on land use, crop areas, livestock and the number of people working on agricultural holdings.

Results from the Scottish Agricultural Census: June 2021
Land Use

Land Use

Most of Scotland's land area is used for agriculture

A map showing land quality in Scotland. Most land has limited growing conditions.

Agricultural area : 5.64 million hectares

Hectares (ha) is the land measurement used in agriculture. One hectare, or 10,000 square metres, is roughly the full size of a rugby pitch.

Increase in winter planting followed by a decrease in spring crops

A chart showing the areas of spring planting and winter planting of cereals in 2021 and 2020.

The area used to grow winter crops increased by nine per cent compared to the previous year. This is mostly due to a 12 per cent increase in the area used to grow wheat, which rose to 104,600 hectares.

The increase in winter planted crops is linked to improved weather conditions last autumn compared to the previous year.

Area used to grow cereals and oilseed rape : 471,000 hectares

Winter planted crops are generally sown in autumn and grown during the winter. Spring planted crops are generally sown during the first three months of the year. Poor weather conditions, such as heavy rainfall, make it difficult for farmers to sow their crops.

The increased area of winter planted crops was followed by a decrease in spring planting. Spring planted crops decreased four per cent compared to 2020. This was driven mainly by a four per cent decrease in the area used to grow spring barley.

Total area of cereals and oilseed rape increases on previous year

A chart showing the total planted area of cereals and oilseeds from 2011-2021.

The total area of cereals and oilseed rape increased slightly compared to the previous year, likely due to the disruption to winter planting in the previous year. Around 471,000 hectares were used to grow cereals and oilseeds.

The total area planted was below the ten-year average. Barley makes up 62 per cent of the total area used to grow cereals and oilseeds, down from 65 per cent in June 2020.

Area of barley : 292,200 ha

Area of wheat : 104,600 ha

Cereals have a strong association with the whisky industry. Both barley and wheat, the two biggest crops, are used to make whisky.

Around 24 per cent of cereal area was used to grow wheat, up from 22 per cent in the previous year.

The area used to grow oats has decreased by less than one per cent since June 2020. The area used to grow oilseeds increased by eight per cent. Other crops grown, such as rye and triticale, are still minority crops amounting to around 7,100 hectares in 2021.

Planted potato area remains steady

A chart showing planted areas of seed, ware and total potatoes from 2011-2021.

The total area of planted potatoes was 28,400 hectares. Although the total planted potato area remained steady compared to the previous year, there was an increase in seed (planting) potatoes and a slight decrease in ware (eating) potatoes.

Area used to grow potatoes : 28,400 hectares

Scotland has a reputation for growing high quality potatoes, particularly seed potatoes. Scottish seed potatoes are sold all over the world and a register of seed potato producers is kept by Scottish Agricultural Science Agency (SASA).

The area of planted seed potatoes is 12,200 hectares, an increase of one per cent from 2020. The area of planted ware potatoes fell by less than one per cent to 16,200 hectares.

More area used to grow vegetables for human consumption

A chart showing the area used to grow vegetables for human consumption and vegetables for stockfeed from 2011-2021.

The area used to grow vegetables intended for human consumption (excluding potatoes) grew by five per cent over the past year. In June 2021 there were 22,100 hectares of vegetables.

Area used to grow vegetables for human consumption : 22,100 ha

Area used to grow vegetables for stock feed : 16,700 ha

The area used to grow animal feed decreased by less than one per cent. The total area of vegetables for stock feeding was 16,700 hectares.

Small decrease in soft fruit growing areas

A chart showing the area used to grow various soft fruits from 2011-2021.

Over the past year, total soft fruit growing areas decreased by less than one percent. The estimated total area in June 2021 was 2,200 hectares. Strawberries are the most popular grown fruit.

Area of soft fruit : 2,200 hectares

Most fruit is grown under cover in either glasshouses or walk-in plastic structures called 'Poly-tunnels'. This allows for a much longer growing season and 75 per cent was grown this way in 2021.

The area used to grow blackcurrants increased, while the area used to grow other soft fruits, such as blueberries, fell slightly. The area used to grow raspberries has been in long-term decline, but remained stable this year compared to last year.


Contact

Email: agric.stats@gov.scot