Used agricultural area in UK flat, animals up
The area of total crops has decreased by 0.2%, helping to offset the 18% increase in uncropped arable land.
UK wheat yields decreased by 12%, falling from 9.0 tonnes per hectare in 2015 to 7.9 tonnes per hectare in 2016. 2014 and 2015 were exceptionally high yielding years for wheat and the 2016 figure is more in line with short term averages.
Yields fell by almost the same percentage as wheat, dropping 12% from 6.7 tonnes per hectare in 2015 to 5.9 tonnes per hectare in 2016. The provisional production estimate for 2016 is 6.7 million tonnes. Winter planted barley saw a minor decrease in area and as a result of yield reductions production estimates for winter planted barley are down 16% to 2.8 million tonnes.
The spring planted barley area increased (3.9%) but the reduced yields meant that production has fallen 6.6% to 3.7 million tonnes.
Areas of oats had the largest proportional increase of the major cereal crops rising by 7.6% to 141 thousand hectares. However, a reduced yield meant the estimated production increased by 4.5% to 0.8 million tonnes in 2016.
The provisional oilseed rape harvest has shown a decrease of 30% to 1.8 million tonnes in 2016.
This decrease in production has been a result of an 11% decrease in the planted area and a 22% decrease in total oilseed rape yield from 3.9 tonnes per hectare in 2015 to 3.1 tonnes per hectare in 2016.
In 2016 the total area of horticultural crops decreased by 7.8% to 160 thousand hectares. Vegetables and salad for human consumption make up the majority (69%) of this area and decreased by 9.5% to 111 thousand hectares in 2016.
The total number of cattle and calves in the UK increased by 1.1% in 2016 to just over 10 million. The breeding herd increased by 0.6% to almost 3.5 million, largely due to the 1.2% increase in the beef herd.
Fattening pigs increased by 2.5% in 2016 and along with a 1.8% increase in the female breeding herd, the total number of pigs rose by 2.3% to 4.8 million.
The UK population of sheep and lambs increased by 0.5% in 2016 to 33.5 million animals. This was largely due to a 0.6% increase in the number of lambs, which now stands at 16.6 million. ■