Under-35s a rarity, with most running farms over 65

Almost a third of all farm businesses in Scotland are run by people over the normal retirement age, the result of the Scottish Government's most recent statistics-gathering exercise has revealed.

Only 4% of those running Scotland's farms are aged under 35. Picture: Contributed

The findings of the EU farm structure survey, published yesterday, showed that 29 per cent of the main decision makers in Scottish agriculture were aged over 65, with a further 28 per cent falling into the 55 to 65 age group – only 4 per cent were aged under 35.

Some 30 per cent were female, and just under one in five had completed at least two years of agricultural training.

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The figures – which also include information on soil conservation, livestock breeding practice and the use of manure – are used to provide a snapshot of the farming industry to aid in future policy decisions and are now also used to help monitor likely greenhouse gas emissions.

The statistics also showed that in Scotland about 10 per cent of tillage used conservation methods and about 13 per cent of land was left bare during the winter.

Only around 3 per cent of manure was ploughed in straight away – a practice believed to improve nutrient retention and reduce pollution – although much of the manure was spread on grassland. More than a quarter of farms reported diversification, the most common form being tourism.