The latest census results show a reduction in cereals, but an increase in potatoes, sheep, pigs and poultry. There was also a reduction in the workforce, and in the area of secure tenancies.
There was an overall reduction in area of cereals of 12,400 hectares (three per cent), with barley down 20,700 hectares (seven per cent). The areas of wheat remained similar to last year, with oats increasing by 5,600 hectares. It was the lowest area of cereals reported since 2010.
Fallow land increased markedly for the second consecutive year, this time up 10,000 hectares to 43,000 hectares.
Potatoes saw a small increase, of 1,800 hectares (seven per cent) to 27,500 hectares, bouncing back from last year’s poor figures. However, the area is still the second lowest since 1994. The area of oilseed and of crops for stock-feed decreased again (15 per cent and eight per cent respectively), but there were increases in the area of vegetables for human consumption (nine per cent), and of fruit (three per cent).
Cattle numbers remained fairly constant at 1.8 million, but are at the third lowest since the 1950s. There was very little change in either dairy or beef numbers. Sheep numbers increased for the third consecutive year, up 125,000 (two per cent) to 6.8 million, but are still lower than in 2009.
Pig numbers were up 12,500 (four per cent) to 330,000, the third consecutive rise. Poultry numbers increased eight per cent, bouncing back after last year’s 11 per cent fall. The figure of 14.1 million, similar to the longer-term average, included 6.5 million broilers (up 15 per cent) and 6.3 million layers (up four per cent).
There were 63,400 people employed on agricultural holdings. This was down 1,900 on 2015, and is the lowest figure on record. There were 430,000 migrant working-days reported during the year, down seven per cent on 2015. The number of migrant workers is not collected.
23 per cent of land was rented, very similar to 2015, with a fall in 91 Act secure tenanted land of about 46,600 hectares and an equivalent increase in Short Duration Limited Tenancy (SDLT) land. The total area of rented land was the lowest on record. An estimated 6,587 holdings had tenancy arrangements, down 22 on last year.
Other figures released show that the area growing strawberries rose by 54 hectares to 990 hectares (a six per cent increase), but raspberries decreased by 24 hectares (seven per cent) to 330 hectares. About 80 per cent of the area of Scotland is agricultural land, in 51,900 agricultural holdings.