8. Comparison with Other Nations
8.1 Land use
The total agricultural area in Scotland, including common grazing, totalled 6.19 million hectares in 2012, representing 79 per cent of the total land area in Scotland. This proportion of total land cover is slightly higher than England (72 per cent) and Northern Ireland (73 per cent) but lower than Wales (84 per cent).
The majority (59 per cent) of agricultural land in Scotland was covered by rough grazing and common grazing (3.66 million hectares), a far higher proportion than in other UK countries due to large areas of upland agricultural land in Scotland being suitable only for livestock grazing (Chart 8.1). In contrast grass covered 21 per cent of agricultural land in Scotland (1.33 million hectares), a far lower proportion than elsewhere in the UK.
Chart 8.1: Agricultural area for each UK country by land use, June 2012
It should be noted that in the 2012 June Agricultural Census statistical publication the total agricultural area was reported as 5.60 million hectares; however, common grazing land, which comprised a further 583,686 hectares, was excluded from this figure.
Total crops and fallow land made up 588,873 hectares in Scotland (ten per cent of total agricultural area), similar to the proportions in Wales (five per cent) and Northern Ireland (five per cent) but much lower in comparison with the proportion of crops and fallow land in
England (45 per cent).
Total crops and fallow land in Scotland (588,873 hectares) made up 12 per cent of the UK total (4.9 million hectares). The following crops in Scotland accounted for much higher proportions of the UK total; spring barley (289,222 hectares or 47 per cent of the UK total) and potatoes (29,536 or 19 per cent). The large area of spring barley can be partially accounted for by the demand of the whisky industry in Scotland, with spring barley the key ingredient for malting, though most barley in Scotland is used for animal feed. Conversely, the following crops accounted for much lower proportions of the UK total; oilseed crops (36,611 hectares or five per cent), wheat (100,637 hectares or five per cent), orchard and soft fruit (877 or three per cent).
Chart 8.2 shows the share each country had of the UK population for each of the main livestock groups. Please note, it does not show the share of each nation's livestock - percentages within each pie chart do not add to 100. Rather it allows us to see which livestock sector each nation was relatively dominant in.
Scotland had a higher UK share of cattle (18 per cent) and sheep (21 per cent) compared to pigs (eight per cent) and poultry (nine per cent).
Chart 8.2: Percentage share of UK livestock, by country, June 2012
Northern Ireland had a similar share to Scotland for cattle, pigs and poultry but with a much lower share for sheep. Compared to Scotland, Wales had a higher share of sheep and a lower share of other livestock groups (including a particularly low number of pigs).
England naturally had the highest share of all livestock groups but with a profile opposite to Scotland, with a larger share of the pig and poultry populations in comparison to cattle and sheep.
Chart 8.3 shows the proportion of different types of cattle within each country. In Scotland, the number of beef cows (constituting 25 per cent of total cattle in Scotland) was larger than the number of dairy cows (ten per cent), whereas in England the profile was the opposite, with the number of beef cows (14 per cent) being smaller than the number of dairy cows (21 per cent). In Northern Ireland and Wales the beef and dairy herds were more equal in size.
Chart 8.3: Cattle type, by country, June 2012
8.3 Output from farming
Chart 8.4 shows the comparative importance of each sector to a country's total output. While a large proportion of Scottish output came from livestock, Scotland also had significant cereal, horticulture and potato sectors. England also had a reasonably equal division between livestock and crops. However in both Wales and Northern Ireland there was a particularly high reliance on livestock and livestock products.
Chart 8.4: Comparison of relative importance of sector to total output, by country, 2012