Scots farming output hit by bad weather

Bad weather affected the output of Scottish agriculture over the past year, with sheep and cattle numbers falling and reductions in output of cereals and potatoes, the Scottish government said.

However, soft fruit, which is less dependent on weather conditions, enjoyed an increase.

The giant snow storm in the spring affected sheep numbers, which fell to a five year low.

The total sheep count dropped by 6% or 392,000, with lamb numbers falling by 8%.

Cattle numbers followed a similar trend and are down to 1.76 million, continuing a long term decline since the 1970s.

The Scottish Government’s Chief Statistician released the results from the June 2018 Agricultural Census which also highlighted the difficult growing conditions the cereal sector faced due to adverse weather.

The data shows the total area of cereals in Scotland dropped by three per cent or 12,900 hectares.

The area of barley, which is Scotland’s biggest crop, fell by 1% or 3,300 hectares.

Wheat fell 9% and oats fell 2%.

The number of people estimated to be working in agriculture has fallen by 400 to 66,600.

Agriculture, though, continues to dominate the Scottish landscape with around 80% of land used for farming and agriculture related activity, with a total of 51,200 agricultural holdings.