Tenanted Agricultural Land in Scotland 2014

Latest statistics of agricultural rents and some data on profitability of tenanted farms

This document is part of a collection

6. Notes

6.1 Data sources

Agricultural census: Data on the number and area of tenancies are taken from the June Agricultural Census. For further details on the methodology used for the census please refer to the original publication of census results, available at the following link:

December Agricultural and Horticultural Survey 2014: Data on the rents paid are taken from the December Survey, an annual sample survey of about 14,000 holdings. The survey is stratified by size and region. Approximately 8,700 holdings returned the survey, including 3,480 holdings that reported renting-in land in 5,600 leases (including seasonal lets). The following shows the approximate number of returns with rented land, by strata, received in the 2014 survey. The random nature of the sampling within strata resulted in between 119 (Eileanan an Iar) and 886 (North East Scotland) tenancies arrangements (including seasonal lets) per sub-region.

0-<50ha 50-<200ha 200-<500ha 500-<1000ha 1000ha+
North West 298 239 103 30 41
North East 75 282 135 12 15
South West 145 669 279 80 79
South East 106 471 311 61 48

The Farm Accounts Survey collects detailed information on expenditure, revenue, assets and liabilities from a sample of about 490 farms across all types other than horticulture, pigs and poultry.

6.2 Methodology


Various methods have been used in the past to estimate the number of holdings with different types of rental arrangement (chart 4, table 3). The current method was designed to also most accurately determine the number of holdings with any type of tenancy.

To obtain the estimates, the 16,760 holdings (2014 data used here for illustrative purposes) with rented land were divided into three categories; i. those on the crofting register that also have tenancies, ii. those not on the crofting register that have tenancies, and iii. those with just rented crofts.

i. There were 10,120 holdings with rented land that are on the crofting register, and of the 7,550 of these that have provided information on arrangement-type on their census return, 70 (one per cent) have a tenancy. Hence we assume that one per cent of the remaining 2,570 (that have not provided us with the arrangement-type information) also have a tenancy, making a total of 89 holdings on the crofting register having a tenancy. The arrangement-type data for the 70 are scaled-up to give data for the 89.

ii. Subtracting the 10,120 from the 16,760 gives the 6,640 holdings with rented land that are not on the crofting register. The data for the 4,910 of which we have the arrangement-type split is scaled up to estimate for the 6,640.

iii. The remaining 9,300 holdings (10,120 with rented land on the crofting register, less the 89 with tenancies) have rented croft and no tenancies.

Average rent

Average rental value is calculated by weighting the survey data using farm-type and size, and land-type. The sample is not originally stratified by farm-type, however the following table shows the breakdown of land-area used in calculations. It is clear that the overall average rate is heavily dependent on the rental value of LFA cattle & sheep farms.

area in 1,000 hectares
0-<50ha 50-<200ha 200-<500ha 500-<1000ha 1000ha+ 0-<50ha 50-<200ha 200-<500ha 500-<1000ha 1000ha+
Cereals 1.2 3.6 1.4 1.3 3.8 24.4 11.5 2.1 1.8
Gen Cropping 0.4 0.8 0.7 1.5 11.4 9.9 2.0
Horticulture 0.5 0.2 0.3 0.7 0.7
Pigs and poultry 0.8 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.5 0.3
Dairy 1.0 10.8 4.0 0.5 1.4 0.5 4.3 3.0
Cattle & Sheep 55.9 107.2 146.6 167.2 510.7 3.5 9.0 3.8 1.2
Mixed 3.8 12.7 12.2 7.7 3.5 2.0 16.5 12.1 2.0 2.0
Forage/other 32.9 19.7 13.0 8.8 26.5 4.0 15.6 13.4 1.8 3.3

Prior to 2013, where calculations were based on the much smaller Tenanted Land Survey (see the previous versions of this publication [5]), it was considered preferable to build up the overall average by using five-year averages for cells in the stratification (three-year one-sided average for first provisional, four-year averages for second provisional), to dampen any sample-effect. An exception was made for LFA cattle & sheep, LFA other, and non-LFA cereals farm-types, where numbers were large enough to just use the current year. Where five-year averages were not available for a given farm-type and size band, the best estimate was used, usually the next size-band down for the same farm-type and taking into account the pattern of lower rents paid on larger areas. For the three larger farm-types imputation based on other farm-sizes was tried first if there were no data, followed by a best estimate as above.

For 2013 onwards, farm-type, including the LFA/non-LFA split, and size band were again used to stratify the data. The larger dataset means that average rents based on a single year can be used for a greater number of cells within the stratification, with a best estimate provided for others. However, all of the strata covering the largest amounts of rent have useable one-year data. The transition from the smaller sample size to the current system created some instability in the estimates for years around the transition, and the estimates for 2012 and 2013 have been revised this year accordingly.

6.3 Uses of the data

Land tenure and conditions for renting have for long been an important issue in Scottish life and this publication seeks to present data for use in the on-going discussions about tenant farming. The uses of the information in this publication include the following:-

  • The information on the number and area of tenancies is used to monitor the use of tenancy and different types of tenancy, in order to inform policy-making, particularly in the light of the recommendations of the Agricultural Legislation Review Group, published earlier this year.
  • Rent information is included as a cost to farming in calculating the total net income from farming (TIFF), as part of the national accounts. The rents reported in the December Survey for each category are grossed up to the total areas reported in the census, to calculate the total amount of rent paid. This estimate is published each year in the Total Income from Farming Estimates for Scotland publication.
  • The information on rents may be used to monitor the cost of land rental in different categories of land.

6.4 Other publications

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

Results from previous June censuses can be accessed here:

Previous publications relating to tenancy can be accessed here:

More information on tenancy policy in Scotland can be accessed here:


Email: Mal Cooke

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