The EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) requires the Scottish Government to set up an Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) to support schemes covered by the Single Application Form and other farm subsidy applications. The Single Application Form is a declaration of all the permanent and seasonal agricultural and non-agricultural land parcels in the UK and is used to claim subsidies for the following:
- Basic Payment Scheme (including Greening and Young Farmers payments)
- Less Favoured Area Support Scheme
- Land Managers' Options
- Rural Priorities
- Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme (Mainland and Island)
- Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme
The IACS is updated annually and includes detailed land use information for each field receiving subsidy under any of the above schemes. The exact spatial extent of the data varies from year to year, but typically encompasses around three-quarters of the total land area of Scotland. The data are used to meet the statistical requirements of the June Agricultural Census and also provide the most detailed land use information available for agricultural regions of Scotland. Note that other land uses (woodland, managed estates etc.) are not comprehensively represented.
Publication date: 2016-01-11
EU member states are required to establish an IACS to ensure their portion of CAP funding is allotted correctly. All land parcels in receipt of subsidy must be mapped to within a tolerance of ±1.5 m for perimeter and ±5% or ±1 ha (whichever is the smaller) for area. Spatial surveys take place each year (usually around January) to account for chainging field boundaries due to e.g. changes of land ownership. The land use questionnaire itself is then usually completed during the subsequent May/June to coinicde with the Agricultural Census.
The Scottish IACS data distinguishes over 300 agricultural land classes based on information obtained directly from land managers. Each year, a small proportion of the farms submitting claims are audited to ensure the information provided is accurate. Note that the land use classes have changed slightly over time to reflect the changing nature of agricultural subsidies. This effect is particularly prominent in the data prior to 2009 and may present problems for the robust identification of land use trends.
Where fields contain multiple land uses, the area of each must be reported. Note, however, that the spatial distribution of land use within a field is not recorded - the smallest spatial data unit within IACS is the field. Database users should also be aware of the occasional presence of multiple claims for the same parcel of land, which may arise when several farm businesses share e.g. an area of common grazing.