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Definitions of Land Types

Arable land

'Arable land' means land which was in an arable crop (or under set aside or lying fallow as part of a normal crop rotation) in one or more years during the five years prior to the 15th May in the year of submission of the application for aid.

Improved grassland

'Improved grassland' means either land used for grazing (other than arable land) where over one third of the sward comprises, singly or in mixture, ryegrass, cocksfoot or timothy, or land that has been improved by management practices such as liming and top dressing, where there is not a significant presence of sensitive plant species indicative of native unimproved grassland.

Current management will affect its condition; the sward may be retained as 'improved grassland' or it may revert to 'unimproved grassland' where, for example, the grazing regime is more extensive and no fertiliser or lime is applied.

Unimproved grassland

'Unimproved grassland' means land used for grazing or mowing which is not normally treated with mineral fertiliser or lime and does not constitute either improved grassland or rough grazings. Unimproved grassland contains a significant presence of sensitive plan species indicative of native unimproved grassland.

Use this method to establish whether there is a significant presence of sensitive plant species indicative of native unimproved grassland. The list of species in the table below shows the typical range of indicators of unimproved grassland found on different soil types.

Locate ten random points within the field or the area of land under consideration, excluding field margins, headlands and obvious areas of different vegetation. At each point, examine a circle of 1m diameter and note the presence of the species from the list. In 'unimproved grassland' you will find 5 or more of the species from the list at more than half of the sample points.


Sample 1

Sample 2

Quaking grass: Briza media

Sheep's fescue: Festuca ovina

Crested hair grass: Koeleria macrantha

Meadow oat-grass: Avenula pratensis

Upright brome: Bromus erectus

Tor grass: Brachypodium pinnatum

False oat-grass: Arrhenatherum elatius

Yellow oat-grass: Trisetum flavenscens

Wavy hair-grass: Deschampsia flexuosa

Mat grass: Nardus stricta

Sweet vernal grass: Anthoxanthum odoratum

Purple moor grass: Molinia caerulae

Sedges and Rushes

Sedges: Carex species

Wood rushes: Luzula species

Cotton grasses: Eriophorum species

Herbs with basal and stem leaves (usually smaller)

Bulbous buttercup: Ranunculus bulbosus

Common knapweed: Centaurea nigra

Salad burnett: Sanguisorba minor

Great burnett: Sanguisorba officinalis

Dropwort: Filipendula vulgaris

Meadowsweet: Filipendula ulmaria

Ox-eye daisy: Leucanthemum vulgare

Hogweed: Heracleum sphondylium

Common sorrel: Rumex acetosa

Wood crane's bill: Geranium sylvaticum

Lady's mantle: Alchemilla glabra

Cuckoo flower: Cardamine pratensis

Tormentil: Potentilla erecta

Small scabious: Scabiosa columbaria

Mouse-ear hawkweed: Hieracium pilosella

Pignut: Conopodium majus

Herbs with uniformly leafy stems, basal leaves usually smaller

Common bird's foot trefoil: Lotus corniculatus

Squinancywort: Asperula cynachica

Red clover: Trifolium pratensis

Heath bedstraw: Galium saxatile

Annual herbs

Fairy flax: Linum catharticum

Yellow rattle: Rhinanthus minor


Wild thyme: Thymus praecox

Common rockrose: Helianthemum nummularium

Horseshoe vetch: Hippocrepis comosa


Bilberry: Vaccinium myrtillus

Heather: Calluna vulgaris

Heaths: Erica species

Rough grazings

'Rough grazings' means land containing semi natural vegetation including heathland, heather moorland, bog and rough grassland used or suitable for use as grazing.

Just as improved grassland may revert to unimproved grassland on the in-bye, so reclaimed hill ground may gradually revert to rough grazings where managed more extensively and without fertiliser or lime application.

In-bye land

  • 'In-bye' is that part of the farm which is used mainly for arable and grassland production and which is not hill and rough grazings.
  • 'In-bye' land has fields that are bounded by a fence, a dyke or a hedge.
  • 'In-bye grassland' will be conserved for winter feed (e.g. as hay or silage) or grazed by livestock.
  • 'In-bye grassland' will be either 'improved' or 'unimproved'. Both 'improved grassland' and 'unimproved grassland' are classified as 'in-bye'.

To classify as 'in-bye' clauses (1) and (2) must be satisfied and, where the land is managed for grassland production, clauses (3) and (4) must also be satisfied.

Please note:

The 'in-bye' definition applies to that part of the farm where the bulk of the land is used for arable or grassland production. Uncultivated field corners and field margins (such as water margins and hedgerows) within this area are included as 'in-bye'.

Although 'in-bye land' has traditionally meant the enclosed grass and arable fields close to the house and steading and below the 'hill or moorland dyke', it is quite possible to have an area of 'in-bye' land above the 'hill dyke' (e.g. a tupping or bull park) - an enclosed area of improved or unimproved grassland once reclaimed from the hill, moorland or heath.

If there is any doubt about the classification of the land in question, you should contact the local RPID office who will be able to advise on the correct classification and also which areas of the holdings are 'in-bye'.