Scottish Survey of Farm Structure and Methods, 2016

Scottish statistics from the EU Farm Structure Survey 2016.

5. Notes

5.1 Background

The survey formed part of the 2016 EU Farm Structure Survey, which gathered information on the structure and activities of farm holdings alongside information on labour and diversification activities. The bulk of this was collected through the June Census alongside other administrative sources. The specific content of the Farm Structure Survey was determined by a European Commission requirement and was carried out across the whole of the EU.

Information not included in the Census or available from administrative sources was collected via a postal survey form, requesting information as at 15 March 2016. Some additional questions, not required this time by the EU, were added, most of which had previously been part EU Farm Structure Surveys and which may be asked again in future surveys. Repeating the collection in 2016 gives a fuller time series, enabling stakeholders to monitor any changes in practice more closely.

5.2 Uses of the information

Primarily, the March survey was conducted in order to satisfy information requirements of the EU, providing a source of information on farm management structure, labour, diversification and production methods. 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 farming in Scotland and the UK, and to monitor and develop agricultural strategy. It is likely that information from other EU countries will not be available until 2018 at the earliest.

The survey also gives the Scottish Government important baseline and time-series 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 allows the 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 15 th March 2016. A date in March was chosen in order to ensure that correspondence and queries could be cleared in time for the June Census.

A holding's eligibility for inclusion in the survey was based on it meeting the threshold of any of the 14 characteristics outlined in the Annex section 7.1. In 2016 there were 33,200 holdings eligible on this basis, accounting for 96 per cent of agricultural land.

A sample of around 15,100 holdings, stratified by size and type, was taken from this population and sent a form. Around 9,900 holdings returned a form, giving a response rate of 65 per cent. Non-response was imputed to provide a dataset of 15,100 holdings. These were then weighted and scaled up by stratum to provide final figures based on the 32,260 holdings eligible for the survey. 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, the sum of holdings may therefore not always equal 33,260.

5.4 Data Quality


The survey provides important information about farm structure and 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 using expert knowledge within the Scottish Government. 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. Although the EU Farm Structure and Methods Survey took place before the June Agricultural Survey, the former survey relies on June land and livestock information for validation. Consequently, this publication follows that of the June census.

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 would allow individual responses to be identified.

Comparability : Most of the questions in the 2016 survey were asked in 2013 and are directly comparable except where stated. New data on unpaid family labour, vocational training undertaken in the last 12 months, and tonnage of manure imported and exported from farms were requested in 2016. Results from Farm Structure Surveys prior to 2013 are not included in this publication.

Farm Structure Survey datasets are not due to be submitted to the EU until late in 2017, with publication not until 2018. No comparable data for other countries are therefore yet available for FSS 2016. Data for previous surveys are available here:

5.5 Other Publications

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

Farm Structure Survey Results for 2013 can be found in the publication, Results from the Scottish Survey of Farm Structure and Methods 2013:

Farm Structure Survey Results for 2010 can be found in the publication, Results from the 2010 Survey of Agricultural Production Methods:

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.

The Economic Report on Scottish Agriculture. This provides an overarching look at Scottish agriculture using data from various sources.


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