Results from the Scottish Survey of Agricultural Production Methods, 2010

The Survey of Agricultural Production Methods (SAPM) formed part of the 2010 EU Farm Structure Survey and recorded details of farming practices across Scotland. This was the first occasion that the SAPM had been carried out in Scotland and, consequently, time series data are not available. The data will be used to inform the development of EU and national policies on agriculture and the environment.

5. Notes

5.1 Background

The survey formed part of the 2010 EU Farm Structure Survey, which gathered information on the main activities of farm holdings alongside information on labour and diversification activities. The bulk of this was collected through an expanded June Census alongside administrative sources. The survey and the questions asked therein were determined by a European Commission requirement and were carried out across the whole of the EU. The information required for SAPM was collected via a postal survey form requesting information as at 15 March 2010.

5.2 Uses of the information

Primarily, the survey is conducted in order to satisfy information requirements of the EU, providing a source of hitherto uncollected information on production methods, livestock housing, the production and storage of manure and slurry, and irrigation. Each member state collects the data, anonymises the records and sends them to Eurostat where they are entered into the Eurofarm database. The survey results will then be used to assess the current status of agricultural production methods in Scotland and the UK, and to monitor and develop agricultural strategy.

The survey also gives the Scottish Government important baseline information in considering the environmental impact of agricultural production. In particular, many farm activities have both a positive and negative impact on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. In order to properly quantify these, and to promote effective ways of mitigating emissions and enhancing sequestrations, it is important to have robust data that can accurately assess farm practices. Repeating questions in this survey would also allow Scottish Government to monitor changes over time and progress towards the GHG mitigation targets in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act.

5.3 Methodology - data collection

The date for the survey was 15th March 2010. A date in March was chosen in order to ensure that correspondence and queries could be cleared in time for the June Census (particularly given that the June Census itself was expanded in 2010 to accommodate further questions for the Farm Structure Survey).

A holding's eligibility for inclusion in the survey was based on its meeting the threshold of any of the 14 characteristics outlined in the Annex section 6.1. In 2010 there were 33,636 holdings eligible on this basis, accounting for 97.8 per cent of agricultural land.

A sample of just under 6,000 holdings, stratified by size and type, was taken from this population and sent a SAPM form. Around 4,400 holdings returned a form, giving a response rate of 77 per cent. Responses to the SAPM survey were weighted by stratum to provide final figures based on 33,636 holdings eligible for FSS. This method weighted responses based on the ratio of holdings in each stratum in the full dataset to the number of holdings per stratum in the sample. Where numbers of holdings are provided in this publication, these are calculated using weighting factors and then rounded. Please note that, as a result the sum of holdings may not always equal 33,636.

5.4 Data Quality


The survey provides important information about agricultural production methods which have consequences for both efficiency and the environmental impact of farming. Both the EU and the Scottish Government are committed to reducing the environmental impact of the agricultural industry, and monitoring of practices is a vital part of this process.


Data undergo several validation processes as follows; (i) checking for any obvious errors on the paper forms upon receipt, (ii) auto-checking and identifying any internal inconsistencies once loaded onto the initial database, (iii) auto-checking for any inconsistencies in relation to land items in the June Census. A series of validation checks are also set out by the EU. If necessary, farmers are contacted to ensure data are correct. Additional quality assurance is provided at the later stages by utilising expert knowledge within the Scottish Government and the agriculture industry. See also section 5.3 above for details of the sampling and weighting strategies.

Timeliness and Punctuality

Results have been published at the earliest possible occasion, given available resources. However it is recognised that it is now over two years since the survey date. This delay is due to the large amount of data collected at the time, comprising the annual census and additional Farm Structure Survey questions, and the other commitments to the regular cycle of statistical publications, together with a series of data validation procedures run by the EU.

Accessibility and Clarity

These statistics are made available online at the Scottish Government's statistics website in accessible formats (html and pdf versions are available). All data tables are made available in excel format to allow users to carry out further analysis. No data will be published in a form that allows individual responses to be identified.

Comparability: This is the first time that these data have been collected and so no time series information are available.

5.5 Other Publications

Results from all Scottish Government agricultural surveys can be accessed here:

Results from previous June Censuses can be accessed here:

Results from previous December Censuses can be accessed here:

Publications relating to cereal and oilseed rape production can be accessed here:

Agricultural Facts and Figures pocketbook. This provides a useful summary of the key statistics in the Scottish agriculture and food sector in a convenient pocketbook format.


Email: Graeme Kerr

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