Tenanted agricultural land in Scotland 2016-2017

Average rates of agricultural rent paid for farmland in Scotland; analysis over time and by category.

This document is part of a collection

4. Notes

4.1 Data sources

Agricultural census: Data on the number and area of tenancies are taken from the June Agricultural Census. For a summary of these data and 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 Survey: 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. For the first time this year, 7,000 of the sampled holdings were contacted by email, asking them to complete the survey online. However, those who did not initially respond were eventually sent a paper copy of the form as a reminder. 33 per cent of those who responded did so online.

Approximately 10,100 holdings returned the survey, including 1,921 holdings that reported renting-in land in 4,350 leases (including seasonal lets). About 500 tenancies paid entirely or partly 'in kind' were reported, which have been excluded from the analysis. The following shows the approximate number of returns with non-seasonal rented land, by stratum, received in the 2016 survey. The random nature of the sampling within strata resulted in between 91 (Na h-Eileanan Siar) and 898 (North East Scotland) tenancies arrangements (including seasonal lets) per sub-region.

  0-<50ha 50-<200ha 200-<500ha 500-<1000ha 1000ha+
North East 87 308 107 17 14
North West 210 213 84 36 28
South East 88 323 212 68 33
South West 131 531 220 88 62

4.2 Methodology

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.

Prior to 2013, calculations were based on the much smaller Tenanted Land Survey (see the previous versions of this publication [ 2]), with values often built up from five-year averages or best estimates for those farm-types with only small representation within the sample.

area in 1,000 hectares

  LFA non-LFA
0-<50ha 50-<200ha 200-<500ha 500-<1000ha 1000ha+ 0-<50ha 50-<200ha 200-<500ha 500-<1000ha 1000ha+
Cereals 0.8 3.5 1.4 - - 3.6 20.7 12.0 1.5 1.2
Gen Cropping 0.7 2.1 1.5 - - 2.4 22.5 19.2 1.8 5.9
Horticulture 0.6 0.1 - - - 0.3 1.5 0.6 - -
Pigs and poultry 0.7 0.2 - - - 0.2 0.4 0.5 - -
Dairy 0.7 8.9 3.0 - 1.4 0.4 3.6 2.8 - -
Cattle & Sheep 55.4 107.8 146.5 171.4 518.8 3.9 11.7 4.5 1.8 1.9
Mixed 3.5 9.5 9.6 6.9 4.5 2.0 16.3 12.1 1.3 1.2
Forage/other 32.2 17.7 12.3 8.4 21.1 2.7 3.1 0.5 - -

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.

4.3 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:-

  • 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, less any income from rents, 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.

4.4 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: Neil White

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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