DEFRA has published its latest estimates for land use and livestock numbers across the UK.
The December 2010 census results showed a slight increase (0.2%) in the wheat area compared with December 2009, to just over 1.9m ha, while the winter oilseed rape area was up 12% at 696,000ha. This was at the expense of winter barley, the area of which fell 7.5% to 376,000ha over the same period.
On the livestock side, the total number of cattle and calves was relatively unchanged at 9.9m last December. The UK sheep and lamb flock was down slightly on the previous year at 21.3m, but the female breeding flock increased 0.1% to 13.9m.
The total number of pigs fell by 0.9% to just under 4.4m in December 2010, the lowest for a decade. An increase in input costs is thought to have contributed to this small decline in numbers. The number of breeding pigs increased 1.9% to 507,000.
Figures for hay and silage production showed hay production in 2010 was 6.4% less than December 2009 at just under 2.7m tonnes, while the quantity of silage produced from grass rose 5.8% to 41.8m tonnes, and the amount of silage produced from other arable crops increased 9.3% to 6.2m tonnes.