Scottish Survey of Farm Structure and Methods, 2016

Scottish statistics from the EU Farm Structure Survey 2016.

1. Main Findings

Farm structure

  • The legal and financial responsibility for holdings lay in an institution (e.g. limited company, church, estate) for five per cent of holdings. ( Table 1)
  • Eighty nine per cent of holdings were managed by the occupier or member of their family, with the remaining run by a manager. ( Table 2)
  • Seventy per cent of those running farms (working occupiers and spouses, or managers) were male. Twenty-nine per cent were aged over 65, with a further 28 per cent 55 to 65. Four per cent were aged under 35. ( Table 3)
  • Twenty-two per cent of occupiers reported they worked full-time on the holding, with over sixty per cent reporting they worked less than 50 per cent of the time. ( Table 4)
  • Just under a fifth (18.5 per cent) of those managing the farm had completed a full agricultural training course of two years or more, with 1.2 per cent having carried out some vocational training in the last 12 months. ( Table 5)
  • Over a third (37.5 per cent) of family members working on the farm reported that at least some of their time was unpaid labour. ( section 3.1)

Diversification and renewables

  • The most common forms of other gainful activities on holdings were tourism (ten per cent of holdings) and agricultural contract work and 'other' activities (both six per cent of holdings). Four per cent of holdings reported the production of renewable energy for the market (not own use), up slightly from three per cent in 2013. ( Table 6)
  • One in six holdings (16 per cent) reported that more than ten per cent of their turnover came from other gainful activities at the location. The figure was 12 per cent in 2013. ( Table 7)

Livestock breeding

  • Of the holdings reporting the breeding of sheep or cattle, eight per cent reported using genetic information such as EBVs for sheep, 23 per cent for beef cattle, and 66 per cent for dairy cattle. ( Table 9)
  • Fifty per cent of ewes were mated using a home-bred ram, with one per cent artificially inseminated. Just under half (44 per cent) of the cows were mated using a brought-in bull, but with 23 per cent mated using artificial insemination. ( Table 10)

Land Use

  • Conventional inversion tillage was used on 90 per cent of cultivated land, with reduced, conservation tillage on six per cent, and zero tillage on four per cent. ( Table 11)
  • The most common methods of soil cover were plant residues or stubble, and winter crops, both of which were on 42 per cent of land, with 13 per cent of cultivated land reported as being left bare. ( Table 12)
  • Over a half (54 per cent) of holdings kept all their land in general crop rotation ( Table 13). Over 60 per cent of holdings had carried out a pH test on their land ( table 14).

Manure and Slurry

  • Twenty-nine per cent of holdings with cultivable land applied manure or slurry on their holdings. There were 12 million tonnes of manure broadcast, of which three per cent was ploughed in within the recommended four hours. There were also 5 million tonnes of slurry applied with a bandspread, and 600,000 tonnes injected. ( Table 15)
  • Seven per cent of holdings that had applied manure or slurry had tested the nutrient value of the manure or slurry. ( section 4.6)
  • One fifth of holdings had storage facilities for solid manure, with nine per cent of holdings having storage facilities for slurry. Eighty-eight per cent of manure storage facilities and 38 per cent of slurry storage were not covered. ( Table 17)


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