Whole Farm Plan

AECS – Agri-Environment Climate Scheme

AgRE Calc – An independent farm carbon calculator

AH&WP – Animal Health and Welfare Plan

ARIOB - Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board

BASIS - An independent standards setting and auditing organisation for the pesticide, fertiliser and allied industries

BPS – Basic Payment Scheme

CA – Carbon Audit

FACTS - Fertiliser Advisers Certification and Training Scheme

FAST - Food and Agriculture Stakeholder Taskforce

FEA - Farm Environmental Assessment GHG – Greenhouse gas emissions

IPMP – Integrated Pest Management Plan

LANTRA - Provider of training, qualifications and career guidance for land-based industries across the UK and Ireland

LOI - Loss on Ignition

LPID – Land Parcel Identifier

LPIS - Land Parcel Information System

NFUS – National Farmers Union, Scotland

pH - Potential of hydrogen

PPP – Plant Protection Products

PLANET - Planning Land Applications of Nutrients for Efficiency and the environment

QMS – Quality Meat Scotland

RSPB –Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

SA – Soil Analysis

SAF – Single Application Form

SAHPS - Scottish Animal Health Planning System

SGRPID – Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Division

SQP – Specially Qualified Person

SRUC – Scotland’s Rural College

VESS - Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure

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Farmers and crofters who intend to claim Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) in 2025 must:

  • check what audits and plans are required for their business
  • ensure they have at least two of the audits and plans that are part of the Whole Farm Plan by 15 May 2025
  • ensure audits and plans meet the minimum standard required for the Whole Farm Plan
  • ensure individual audits and plans meet the validity period
  • indicate on their 2025 Single Application Form (SAF) what audits and plans they have
  • ensure copies of audits and plans can be shared with SGRPID if required
  • keep a record of any actions taken based on the information from the audits and plans
  • continue to obtain any additional audits and plans to ensure they have all applicable audits and plans by 15 May 2028 at the latest

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What is the Whole Farm Plan?

The Whole Farm Plan was a recommendation from the Farmer Led Groups and will support farmers and crofters to take a holistic view of their farm or croft. By establishing their current performance and activities, businesses will be able to better identify opportunities for improvement and work towards being more productive and profitable, better positioning them to contribute to meeting Scotland’s climate and nature targets.

Once launched, the Whole Farm Plan will help businesses make more informed use of the future support framework.

From 2025 in order to receive Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payment every farmer and crofter in Scotland will have to demonstrate by 15 May 2025 that they have started to review and baseline their current land and livestock management practices and are considering appropriate actions and/or management changes personal to their business that they can implement that will ensure their future agricultural activities are sustainable, efficient and resilient and deliver Scotland’s Vision for Agriculture going forward.

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The Whole Farm Plan has been co-developed with the industry. This includes the WFP Steering Group which was established by the Cabinet Secretary in 2023. The group meets monthly and is comprised of representatives from NFUS, LANTRA, RSPB, Land Workers Alliance, Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, Scottish Crofting Federation and the Scottish Land Matching Service.

Further engagement has occurred with the Food and Agriculture Stakeholder Taskforce (FAST), ARIOB, NatureScot, Scottish Quality Crops (SQC), Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), Scottish Pig Producers, National Sheep Association (Scotland) and the Scottish Beef Association.

The benefits to farmers and crofters of carrying out a baseline review of their business activities is to provide them with an understanding of their current position in delivering Scotland’s Vision for Agriculture, help them identify areas for improvement and allow them to assess the effectiveness of the implemented improvements (comparison between “before” and “after”).

Each review will help identify opportunities for making best use of the future agricultural support packages to improve efficiency and sustainability of farm and croft businesses, while decreasing carbon emissions, increasing biodiversity and producing high quality food.

By 15 May 2028 at the latest, every farmer and crofter in Scotland will be required to have carried out all of the audits and plans that make up the WFP that are applicable to their business as a condition of receiving Scottish Government Agricultural support payments.

Practical advice on how to make the most of your plans and audits to improve your business practices can be found on the Farm Advisory Service website.

The individual audits and plans that make up the Whole Farm Plan have been selected as appropriate to ensure farmers and crofters undertake a baseline review of their current land and livestock management practices to help them understand their current position in terms of efficiency and sustainability, carbon emissions and biodiversity.

The audits and plans that make up the 2025 Whole Farm Plan are:

Audit/Plan name Validity
Animal Health and Welfare Plan Annual review
Biodiversity Audit Five-year review
Carbon Audit Five-year review
Integrated Pest Management Plan Annual review
Soil Sampling of permanently managed Region 1 land Five-year review (every Region 1 field sampled once over a five-year period)

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The diagram below explains what audits and plans farmers and crofters will be required to carry out depending on their agricultural activities.

By 15 May 2025, all farmers and crofters must have completed at least two of the audits and plans that make up the Whole Farm Plan that are applicable to their business.

Flow chart with agricultural activities on top row, leading to the relevant plan required.

By 15 May 2028 at the latest, every farmer and crofter will be required to have carried out all of the audits and plans that make up the Whole Farm Plan that are applicable to their business as a condition of receiving Scottish Government Agricultural support payments.

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Some farmers and crofters may already have some or all of the required audits and plans required for the Whole Farm Plan, but they must ensure that as well as meeting the minimum required standard, that they are valid on the 15 May of each claim year.

The table below will help determine if existing audits and plans will be valid on the 15 of May 2025. If they are then they will not be required to obtain a new or update their existing audit(s) and or plan(s).

Audit/Plan Name Date Created/Last Updated
After 16 May 2020 After 16 May 2021 After 16 May 2022 After 16 May 2023 After 16 May 2024
Animal Health and Welfare Plan No No No No Yes
Biodiversity Audit Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Carbon Audit Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Integrated Pest Management Plan No No No No Yes
Soil Analysis Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

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A Carbon Audit (CA) will provide farmers and crofters with an “estimated” carbon footprint at a whole farm/croft and at individual enterprise level, regardless of the size of a farm or croft and identify where the greatest emissions are being produced or are being/can be sequestered.

Having this knowledge will allow farmers and crofters to identify opportunities for increased resource efficiency and opportunities for them to reduce costs.

The Animal Health and Welfare Plan (AH&WP) will focus on improving livestock efficiency, which in turn will lead to reduced emissions and increased profitability.

Soil Analysis (SA), and the Integrated Pest Management Plan (IPMP) will help focus on maximising the efficiency of and potentially reducing the quantity of chemical/organic fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, nematicides, slug control agents and plant growth regulators being used leading to reduced emissions, improving biodiversity and increased profitability.

The Biodiversity Audit/Habitat map will identify important habitats/natural capital on farms and crofts that is already being managed alongside existing agricultural practices and identify areas for the creation of new habitats such as unimproved grass banks or unproductive areas within fields that can be used to meet future Tier 2 (enhanced) requirements or could be managed under Tier 3 (elective) as well as potentially sequester carbon, reducing the farm or crofts carbon footprint.

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By 15 May 2025 all farmers and crofters who want to receive BPS in 2025 must have obtained at least two of the audits and plans that meet the minimum standard required for the Whole Farm Plan.

Farmers and crofters will be required to indicate what plans they have on their 2025 Single Application Form (SAF). Farmers and crofters will not initially be required to submit details relating to their audits and plans (with the exception of the Habitat map as part of the Biodiversity requirement).

In 2025, no penalties will be applied to BPS payments if at least two of the audits and plans that make up the Whole Farm Plan are not obtained, instead a warning letter will be issued.

As part of the on-farm inspection regime from 2025, SGRPID will check that farmers and crofters have the audits and plans they indicated on their SAF that they had and that they are valid (i.e. meet the minimum standard and valid period).

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In 2026 it is likely that farmers and crofters need to have more than two audits and plans. We will use the data from 2025 to determine what audit and plan uptake is and engage with our stakeholder networks to identify any potential challenges that the industry is facing in getting their plans and audits in place.

We will provide an update on 2026 requirements in summer 2025 as part of the Agricultural Reform Programme (ARP) route map.

By 2028 at the latest, all businesses will need to have all relevant five plans and audits in place.

Businesses should continue to update and review their plans and audits to ensure that they remain valid.

Nutrient Management Plans will be introduced to the Whole Farm Plan by 2028.

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Many farmers and crofters will have already completed some or all the audits and plans that make up the Whole Farm Plan and will be using the information to make business changes helping them become more efficient and profitable.

However, for those who do not have any or do not have all of the required audits and plans, the order in which they are carried out is down to individual farmers and crofters’ choice.

In 2025 farmers and crofters are free to pick the two audits and plans which they feel would provide their businesses with the greatest initial benefit

We would encourage farmers and crofters who can undertake more than two audits and plans in 2025 to do so.

However farmers and crofters who want to receive BPS in 2025 must ensure that by 15 May 2025 they have obtained at least two of the required audits/plans and by 15 May 2028 at the latest they have completed all the audits and plans that are applicable to their farm/croft business.

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Improving the health and welfare of animals will improve productivity as healthy animals are naturally more productive. Key to achieving these improvements in productivity is proactive and preventative health planning.

By ensuring livestock are healthy and productive, businesses will be able to reduce their emissions, contributing to Scotland’s climate targets.

Animal Health and Welfare Plan minimum standard

Background

The inclusion of Animal Health and Welfare Plans (AH&WP) as part of the WFP is intended to optimise animal health and welfare, contributing to improved performance, efficiency and reduced emissions.

Minimum statutory requirements for animal health and welfare are already defined through cross compliance, but requirements as part of the WFP are intended to build on these standards further with the long-term goal of normalising a holistic approach to health and welfare planning across the industry.

Who needs an Animal Health and Welfare Plan?

Animal health and welfare plans are applicable to any farmer or crofter who has management responsibility for any number of cattle, sheep, goats, deer, alpacas, llamas, pigs or over 350 poultry on their farm or croft.

Minimum standards

At a minimum, plans must include all of the following:

  • contact details for who is responsible for the businesses animal health and welfare
    • this must include person(s) name and contact details

  • contact details of the businesses vet practice
    • this must include the vet practice name, address and contact number.

  • details of the types and numbers of each species of livestock on the farm/croft
    • this must include the total number of all relevant livestock species, broken down by sex and breeding/non breeding

  • details of breeding stock and livestock born
    • must include the number of breeding livestock for each species
    • must include the target numbers for offspring born
    • must include an estimation of the actual number of offspring born. Some farming systems (such as extensive hill flocks) may make it difficult to give the exact number of livestock born, these businesses should provide estimates to the best of their ability
    • must include comments on these figures and any potential reasons the business did/did not meet these predicted targets. There are many reasons out with a farmer or crofters control that will mean the actual number of livestock born may be less than they set out in their targets. It is still valuable for them to consider why this might be happening as there may be things they can address in the future
  • disease risk assessment and management plan
    • businesses must consider the most common disease risks on their farm or croft
    • the businesses must demonstrate it has considered the risk level, prevention of the risk and management of the risk.
    • must include details of incoming livestock (purchased and returning)
    • must include risks of other animals (e.g. neighbouring livestock, wildlife, farm dogs, general public’s dogs) if applicable.
    • must include risk of people – e.g. family/staff and any incoming visitors
    • must include buildings – both general livestock housing and sick livestock areas
    • must include equipment – both the businesses equipment and the equipment of others
    • must include any disease risk related to manure and slurry spreading if applicable
    • must include any disease risk related to quarantine pasture if applicable
  • livestock health management calendar
    • this must cover the planned routine livestock treatments and livestock management tasks to be undertaken throughout the year. This could include scanning, putting tups in, worming etc.
    • this should include all livestock and all dogs on the farm or croft
    • these management actions will be specific to the business
  • euthanasia policy
    • must account for all livestock on the holding
    • must detail the method that will be used
    • must detail the name of the trained/competent person who will undertake this method
  • fallen livestock management details
    • must include method of disposal (e.g. licenced collector or burial in derogated areas)
    • must include the name of the collector or the burial location if applicable

Plans do not have to be signed off by a vet. However, veterinary involvement in the holding is important and is expected as part of best practice. Businesses must confirm as part of their plans the following:

  • a vet has been present on the holding during the past 12 months

In crofting areas, other veterinary involvement is also acceptable, crofters will need to confirm one of the following:

  • a vet has been present at a township gathering points or communal locations to view stock from multiple holdings within the last 12 months
  • the keeper is a member of a local flock or herd club that has regular veterinary input
  • for businesses with less than 2 adult breeding cows or 13 breeding ewes the business can demonstrate that they have taken stock to a vet practice in the last 12 months

Veterinary attestation provides evidence of veterinary involvement on the holding and businesses do not have to arrange an additional visit to the holding. Annual visits from veterinary practices as part of requirements to prescribe medications or carry out routine annual tasks such as castration and de-horning also provide evidence of veterinary involvement on a holding. A full plan is still required.

Lifespan

Plans must be updated at least annually.

Ways to create an Animal Health and Welfare Plan

The format of AH&W plans is intended to be flexible. It is for the business, working with their vet or advisor, to decide the health and welfare priorities they intend to focus on. The size of the plan will vary depending on how many animals the business has.

There are many tools and templates which businesses can utilise to complete a plan. There is a range of online tools such as SAHPS which is free and has been funded by the Scottish Government.

Businesses may prefer to use a paper plan and/or a template provide by their vet. Any plan or tool which allows the farmer or crofter to plan health and welfare which covers the minimum requirements will be accepted.

In instances where a business does not have a plan in place and does not want to utilise online tools or guidance, they should contact their vet, advisor or a Suitably Qualified Person to discuss creating a plan. Suitably Qualified Persons (SQPs) are animal health professionals who are qualified to prescribe and dispense specific veterinary medicines. SQPs are registered with a regulatory body approved by the UK's Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).

Supply chain equivalence

In date health and welfare plans held as part of quality assurance schemes (for example QMS, Red Tractor), supermarket contracts or milk contracts are all valid and will be accepted as part of the WFP.

SGRPID inspections

Plans must be available to view in the event of an SGRPID inspection. Inspectors will not be assessing the content of the plan, only confirming that it meets the minimum standards.

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We are in the midst of twin biodiversity and climate crises which will present challenges and opportunities for farmers and crofters. Maintaining and restoring biodiversity is crucial in tackling the climate crisis, and tackling the climate crisis will be essential for restoring biodiversity. This is why it plays a key part of the Scottish Government’s Agriculture Reform Programme to deliver our ‘Vision for Agriculture’.

From 2026 at least half of all funding for farming and crofting will be targeted towards outcomes for biodiversity gain and climate mitigation and adaption.

A biodiversity audit will help farmers to prepare for this and help them to maintain and restore biodiversity on their land. The first step is that every farmer and crofter understands what biodiversity exists on their farms and crofts, and an audit will provide the baseline of habitats and features. Farmers and crofters can then assess the quality of the habitats and this will help them consider and prioritise management options for habitats or species. This will also help them make best use of future agricultural support.

We realise that for many farmers and crofters a biodiversity audit might seem daunting. That is why we have kept requirements simple and are only requiring a habitat map at this stage, which farmers and crofters can do themselves without the need to employ a third party.

The WFP Biodiversity Audit should be seen as the first step on a learning journey in considering how managing biodiversity can fit alongside agriculture production on farms and crofts.

Biodiversity Audit minimum standard

Background

The Whole Farm Plan Biodiversity Audit requires farmers and crofters to baseline the biodiversity on their entire farm or croft by creating a habitat map of all the land that they manage on a permanent basis, identifying specific habitats that are present on their farms and crofts from a list of around 30 individual habitats from the following broad Whole Farm Plan habitat and feature categories:

  • cropped land
  • grassland
  • wetland
  • woodland
  • coastal
  • upland and peatland
  • designated/historic sites
  • linear features
  • point habitats

The full list of required habitats and features that have been recommended by NatureScot as part of the co-design process together with descriptions are shown in the Whole Farm Plan Habitat and Feature Key in the Annexes of this guidance.

Who Needs a Biodiversity Audit?

By 15 May 2028, all farmers and crofters are required to have a Habitat Map as a first stage of a biodiversity audit for all of the land that they manage on a permanent basis. Habitat and feature information for individual common grazing shares and seasonal land does not have to be covered in 2025.

Common grazings managed and used to claim support by a single business (such as a sheep stock club) will be required to complete a biodiversity audit.

Minimum Standard

Farmers and crofters should select the most appropriate habitat(s) and features within a land parcel/field or any land which is not currently mapped and does not have a Land Parcel Identification (LPID) or white space that they are responsible for.

As a minimum, they must:

  • create a Habitat Map for all land that they are responsible for, excluding seasonal land but including any land that is not currently mapped and does not have a LPID (white space)
  • select at least one habitat using the Whole Farm Plan Habitat and Feature Key (as detailed in the Annexes) that best describes the majority of land cover for each field
  • provide habitat map details to SGRPID for adding to the LPIS habitat layer
  • update the Habitat Map at least once every 5 years

It is recommended – but not mandatory, that that farmers and crofters:

  • identify all individual habitats and features that are present in each field
  • assess the current condition of habitats

Lifespan

The Habitat Map must be reviewed and updated at least once every five years. However, it is recommended that it is updated as required to reflect any changes within that period.

Ways to complete the Biodiversity Audit

Farmers and crofters will be able to create their whole farm/croft Habitat Map through one of the following:

  • online, using the habitat layer of the RPID Land Parcel Information System (LPIS).
  • provide a map to RPID, which will be uploaded to LPIS by the RPID Land Mapping Team
  • the NatureScot Biodiversity Audit using the Farm Biodiversity Scotland app (still under development and being tested with more farmers and crofters in 2024, and to be widely available from 2025)

Supply Chain Equivalence

Supply chain equivalence habitat maps or habitat maps produced for any other reason can be accepted if they meet the Minimum Standards of the Whole Farm Plan Biodiversity Audit. This may require them to be updated to ensure they use the required Whole Farm Plan Habitat and Feature Key for all land that they are responsible for and ensure it includes any land that is not currently mapped and does not have a LPID (white space).

Farm Environmental Assessment (FEA) maps supplied by farmers and crofters who have a 2022, 2023 and 2024 AECS contracts partially meet the Whole Farm Plan Biodiversity Audit Minimum Standards, but will need updated with additional habitat(s) and feature information (not required by the FEA) and ensure that habitat and feature information is provided for all land that they are responsible for including any land that is not currently mapped and does not have a LPID (white space).

SGRPID Inspections

As part of on farm/croft land inspections, following discussion with the farmer/crofter RPID may make updates to farmers and crofters Habitat Map if discrepancies are found (i.e. wrong habitat description is chosen).

As long as habitats and features have been included for all the land that they are responsible for, discrepancies in terms of incorrect habitat category being selected will not attract any penalties.

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Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture is essential for Scotland to meet its carbon reduction commitments and to improve farm/croft efficiency and profitability. High carbon emissions tend to be linked to high use of resources, and/or wastage, so reducing emissions can also reduce costs.

Before being able to reduce emissions, all farmers and crofters must first understand the source of these emissions.

A Carbon Audit identifies the main sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that farmers and crofters may otherwise be unaware of and should be used to help inform decision-making opportunities for potential changes to livestock and land management practices.

Carbon Audit minimum standard

Background

Carrying out a Carbon Audit will help all farmers and crofters understand their farm or crofts carbon footprint, identify the quantity and source of greenhouse gas emissions and identify the key opportunities for both business and environmental improvement. By improving efficiency, farmers and crofters should be able to identify areas to reduce costs.

Who needs a Carbon Audit?

Carbon audits are applicable to all types of business. By 2028, all farms and crofts will be expected to have a carbon audit in place.

Minimum standards

To meet the requirements of the WFP, the carbon audit must:

  • be aligned to either the PAS 2050 standard or be a component of a UK supply chain contract (e.g. dairy contracts, supermarket contracts etc)
  • be updated at least every 5 years. Existing carbon audits that meet these standards are valid providing they are not older than 5 years when the SAF window closes
  • be supplemented by recommendations, either from the audit tool itself, an advisor or any other educational resources
  • businesses must retain a copy of their Carbon Audit

It is recommended – but not mandatory, that:

  • businesses use the same carbon audit tool consistently over time – this will help them track progress
  • businesses use an advisor or any other external party to discuss their recommendations, particularly if it is their first carbon audit. This will help businesses decide which recommendations are best to act on
  • businesses keep a record of the changes they undertake as a result of their carbon audit

Lifespan

Carbon audits must be updated at least once every 5 years.

Ways to create a Carbon Audit

With the exception of businesses who are required to use a specified carbon audit tool as part of an existing supply chain scheme, businesses must use one of the following carbon audit tools:

  • AgRE Calc
    • free for individual farmers, offering one farm profile and report a year, and access to general industry benchmarks
    • Agrecalc footprints the whole farm before using the data to also provide enterprise and product specific reports
  • Cool Farm Tool
    • predominantly aimed at arable, beef and dairy. Less suited for upland
    • output based on a crop or product basis rather than a farm or enterprise level
  • Farm Carbon Calculator Tool
    • output is on a whole farm or enterprise basis
  • Solagro (JRC) Carbon Calculator

Businesses should select the carbon audit tool which suit their business scale and activities.

Supply chain equivalence

Carbon audits carried out as part of supply chain contracts will be accepted if they are in date and can be shared with SGRPID.

SGRPID inspections

Businesses must keep a record of their audit results and recommendations and ensure they are available in the event of an SGRPID inspection. Inspectors will not be assessing the contents of the audit, but determining it meets the minimum standards.

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An Integrated pest management (IPM) is a whole farm approach to managing the land, maximising the efficiency of production whilst minimising negative effects on the environment.

It combines a range of tools to more efficiently target the application of plant protection products (pesticides and herbicides) thereby reducing the risk of resistance.

Completing an IPM plan can help farmers comply with their legal requirement to take reasonable precaution to reduce risks to human health, the environment and biodiversity when using pesticides.

Integrated Pest Management Plan minimum standard

Background

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a sustainable approach for the prevention, detection and control of plant pests and diseases and weeds through combining biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way that minimises economic, health and environmental risks.

Who needs an Integrated Pest Management Plan?

IPM plans are applicable to any business, regardless of size, that uses plant protection products (e.g. pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, nematicides, slug control agents and plant growth regulators).

The process of creating a plan will help a business demonstrate that their use of Plant Protection Products (PPP’s) is justified.

Minimum standard

The format of an IPM plan will vary depending on the type of business.

The IPM plan may include aspects such as how businesses could use an IPM approach to help minimise risks associated with the use of plant protection products. For example:

  • crop rotations,
  • using resistant crop varieties
  • management actions such as establishing a flower-rich grass margin close to cropped areas to provide habitat for natural crop pest predators
  • be updated annually
  • businesses must retain a record of their annual IPM plan

It is recommended – but not mandatory, that:

  • it is not mandatory to have agent involvement in creating an IPM plan, although it is encouraged that businesses seek the advice of a BASIS qualified advisor to help them.

If the IPM tool utilised provides a score, businesses should keep a record of these scores to track their progress over time.

Lifespan

The plan must be updated annually, even if similar practices are being carried out each year.

Ways to create an Integrated Pest Management Plan

It is recommended that any businesses without a current plan should utilise the free Scottish IPM assessment plan tool available on the Plant Health Centre website.

Supply chain equivalence

IPM plans required as part of existing supply chain contracts are acceptable providing, they are in-date.

SGRPID inspections

Businesses must ensure their IPM plans are available to view in the event of a SGRPID inspection. Farmers which use the Plant Health Centre tool will be emailed a pdf showing their IPM score, the date the plan was completed, their answers to the questionnaire along with some feedback to improve integrated pest management based on their responses which they can show to an inspector. Inspectors will not be assessing the content of the plan, but determining it meets the minimum standards.

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Soil analysis can benefit all farming systems by increasing the efficient use of chemical fertilisers, livestock slurry, farmyard manure, sewage waste and digestate inputs which will lead to lower agricultural emissions and increased business profitability.

Without soil testing, it is very difficult to ensure the right application of fertilisers for the crop and get the optimum yield. Soil analysis gives valuable information, essential for soil quality improvement. By tracking the exact amount of soil nutrients, farmers and crofters can easily adjust fertilisation in accordance with soil and crop requirements, saving them money and reducing emissions.

Soil Analysis minimum standard

Background

Correct soil management and targeted nutrient use are essential to maximise agricultural efficiency and minimise losses to the environment. Soil analysis is intended to encourage businesses to target nutrient applications to where they are needed most, improving efficiency of fertiliser use. This will not only potentially save the business money but reduce emissions and possible negative environmental impacts.

Who has to do Soil Analysis?

As part of the WFP, soil analysis is required for all region 1 land that a farmer or crofter manages on a permanent basis (with the exception of seasonal land and common grazing shares) that they apply artificial fertilisers and/or organic manures to.

Minimum standards

  • all region 1 land managed on a permanent basis that a business applies artificial fertilisers and/or organic manure to must be sampled at least once every 5 years and by 15 May 2028 all region 1 land must have been sampled within 5 years
  • soil sampling can be carried out by farmers and crofters or an advisor. Samples can be sent to an advisor to organise analysis or directly to an analysis lab
  • Soil Analysis must be carried out by an analysis lab
  • analysis must include details on pH level, Phosphate (P), Potash (K) and Carbon as a minimum
  • businesses must retain a record of their soil analysis results
  • businesses must keep a record of the actions taken as a result of their Soil Analysis

It is recommended – but not mandatory, that:

  • at least 20% of region 1 land is soil sampled annually, but businesses can adopt a sampling interval that suits them providing all Region 1 land is sampled once every 5 years
  • there is no minimum number of samples that should be taken per field but it is recommended to walk a ‘W’ pattern across the field, taking at least five samples to a depth of 7cm for grass and 15cm for arable fields on each leg of the W
  • sample for Magnesium and/or for trace elements
  • businesses may wish to seek the advice of a FACTS qualified advisor
  • once a business has received their soil analysis, they create a nutrient management plan
  • produce a Nutrient Management Plan (will be a mandatory requirement from 2028)

Lifespan

All permanently managed region 1 Land that receives applications of artificial fertilisers and/or organic manure must be soil sampled at least once every 5 years.

Supply chain equivalence

Any soil analysis carried out as part of a quality assurance or supply chain schemes will be accepted acceptable, providing it includes details on pH level, Phosphate (P), Potash (K) and Carbon as a minimum.

Existing Soil Analysis

Businesses that are already part way through their soil sampling cycle and have not been sampling for soil carbon are not expected to repeat in-date analysis. However, any new analysis that is carried out from 1 July 2024 onwards must include soil carbon.

Calculating Soil Carbon and pH

The Carbon test may be a Loss on Ignition (LOI) or a Dumas test. Both methods provide accurate readings of the Carbon levels in soil.

Businesses may choose to include the Carbon and pH tests for every analysed sample or may choose to combine separate samples from the entire field and perform as a separate Carbon and pH test for every sampled field both methods are acceptable.

Nutrient Management Plans

Although not compulsory for 2025, from 2028 farmers and crofters will be required to produce a nutrient management plan (NMP) to complement their soil analysis. We therefore recommend that once a business has received their soil analysis, they create a nutrient management plan.

A NMP provides recommendations for crop and grassland nutrient requirements, based on the determined nutrient status of soils. It is recommended that in Scotland, fertiliser recommendations for crop and grassland are based on relevant SRUC technical notes for the tested nutrients and for nitrogen and that any nutrients available from the application of all fertilisers (including slurry and farmyard manure) should also be accounted for when developing a plan.

It is recommended that NMP’s are prepared using PLANET (Planning Land Applications of Nutrients for Efficiency and the environmenT), which is a free to use nutrient management decision support tool. Other programmes which allow you to produce a nutrient management plan are also acceptable as long as they are relevant to Scottish conditions and fertiliser recommendations are based on relevant SRUC technical notes.

Many other factors can also affect the uptake of nutrients by growing crops including soil compaction and poor soil structure limiting root growth and therefore uptake of nutrients. The VESS (Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure) guide can be used to measure soil structure.

SGRPID inspections

Businesses must retain a record of their soil analysis results and be able to present them in the event of an SGRPID inspection. Inspectors will not be assessing the content of the soil analysis, but determining it meets the minimum standards.

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Annex A: Whole Farm Plan habitat and feature map key

Download the habitat and feature map key

Annex B: Biodiversity audit - cropped land habitats

Broad category Specific category Unit of measurement Summary habitat description Detailed habitat description
Cropped land Arable ha All land used for arable crop production including fruit, vegetables and fallow All cropped land including arable crops, arable silage, potatoes, fruit and vegetables. Not grassland as part of your arable crop rotation
Managed crops for nature ha Cultivated land managed to benefit biodiversity (e.g. wild bird cover crop) or improve organic matter or fertility of soil (e.g. sown with green manure) Cultivated land specifically planted with the intention of benefitting particular native species, increasing biodiversity and stabilising soil e.g. Wild Bird Seed mix, pollinator mixes, and for soil health (e.g. green manure for nutrients, tillage radish and deep-rooted species for compaction)
Field margin m Land adjacent to an arable crop which may be in grass or sown with a mix to benefit biodiversity  

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Annex C: Biodiversity audit - grassland habitats

Broad category Specific category Unit of measurement Summary habitat description Detailed habitat description
Grasslands Improved grassland ha Productive grassland (for grazing or forage) subject to regular reseeding and inputs of fertiliser and lime Improved grassland has a high coverage of agricultural grass varieties especially ryegrass, timothy and white clover, of more than 30% of the field. Productive grassland subject to regular inputs of artificial and/or organic fertiliser, temporary/rotational leys, herbal leys, permanent pasture, farmed grassland that has regular re-seeding rotations or has been reseeded within the last 15 years for longer rotations. Cropped grassland for conserved forage. If you have created species rich grassland, please map this under the Unimproved Grassland category.
Semi-improved grassland ha Grassland with wider species diversity than improved grassland, that is not part of your normal crop rotation but does not meet the unimproved grassland definition. Cover of agricultural grass varieties such as ryegrass, timothy and clover will be less than 30% of the field. There may be some wildflower presence and may occur where unimproved grasslands have undergone some modification through the use of, for example, fertilisers, lime, herbicides or where formerly improved grasslands are being less intensively managed. These habitats have a reduced range of plant species compared to unimproved grassland but a wider diversity than improved grassland.
Unimproved grassland ha Grassland that has not been ploughed, reseeded or fertilised including species rich; or species rich grassland created on previously improved grass or arable, can also apply to uncultivatable areas in arable land. This excludes grazed Machair and areas above the hill dyke. Grasslands that have not been ploughed, reseeded or had chemical inputs in the recent past, or ever, and consequently have very little or no ryegrass or white clover (less than 10% cover of the field). They may have noticeable wildflower and sedge coverage with a diverse sward. In an agricultural sense they may be considered to be low-productive in-bye grassland, or rough grassland. Grassland habitats are considered to be species rich if they have a good representation of indicator species; grasslands on alkaline soils will have a greater range of species than those on acidic soils. If this area has been created as species rich grassland on previously improved grass or arable, perhaps under a scheme, please map this under this category. Unimproved grasslands beyond the hill dyke should be mapped as upland grassland.
Wet/marshy grassland ha Wet or marshy ground used for grazing with flowering species, not dominated by soft rush. Can also apply to uncultivatable areas in arable land. Wet or ‘marshy’ ground with mostly tussock forming grasses and rushes used for grazing. Variety of flowering plants, sedges and rushes. These sites are not dominated by soft rush.
Rush pasture ha Land dominated by soft rush within grassland pasture Areas dominated by soft rush within grassland pasture. Can be scattered rush or dense stands of rush with limited diversity of other plant species. Often used by nesting waders.

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Annex D: Biodiversity audit - wetland habitats

Broad category Specific category Unit of measurement Summary of habitat description Detailed habitat description
Wetlands Ponds and lochs ha Any open water including seasonally dry ponds and scrapes Any open water. These may be permanently wet e.g. lochs, lochans, and permanent ponds, or seasonally dry (wader scrapes, seasonal ponds)
Water margins ha Uncultivated land next to a pond/loch or running water An area of uncultivated land next to a ditch, burn, river, pond, loch, lochan etc and may be managed as grassland or may contain other habitats such as shrubs, trees or wetland
Wetlands ha Wetland that is too wet for livestock such as swamp, reedbeds etc A wide and sometimes overlapping group of very wet habitats on mineral or peaty soils. Generally of high conservation value. Usually too wet for stock. Fen – a peat-accumulating wetland, fed by mineral-rich ground or surface water, often forming in shallow valleys and loch basins. Marsh – a wetland on mineral soil dominated by herbaceous plants, often forming a transition between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Transition mire – a wetland transitional between acidic bog and alkaline fen. Reed bed – a transitional wetland found between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Usually dominated by the common reed and can form extensive areas in lowland floodplains or fringe streams, rivers, ditches, lochans, lochs and ponds

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Annex E: Biodiversity audit - woodland habitats

Broad category Specific category Unit of measurement Summary of habitat description Detailed habitat description
Woodlands Conifer plantation ha Conifer trees excluding mature natural Scots Pine Commercially planted stands of conifers, excluding mature natural Scots pine
Natural woodland ha Woodland dominated by native species such as Scots pine, birch, oak, ash, hazel and rowan Woodland dominated by native species, including natural Scots pine woodland. This woodland can have a few non-native trees like sycamore and beech but would not make up more than 50% of the woodland
Mixed woodland ha Either woodland with non-native species such as sycamore and beech, or a mix of native and non-native species Woodland comprised of non-native species such as sycamore and beech or a mix of native and non-native species. These woodlands may include up to 50% of non-native conifer species like larch and spruce
Native scrub ha Areas dominated by native species such as willow, juniper, broom, gorse and blackthorn but not rhododendron Areas of scrub dominated by species such as broom, gorse, hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, elder and bramble. This refers to specific areas where scrub dominates, not scattered scrub on other habitats.
Also includes areas of scrub above the natural treeline, which may include montane willows, dwarf juniper and dwarf birch
Wood pasture ha Grassland interspersed with trees including agro-forestry, orchards and ancient wood pasture Often found in estates and including large mature trees

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Annex F: Biodiversity audit - coastal habitats

Broad category Specific category Unit of measurement Summary habitat description Detailed habitat description
Coastal Saltmarshes ha Inter-tidal land or 'merse' ground Any vegetated inter-tidal land that is immersed by seawater during mean spring high tides. Also known as ‘merse’ ground
Sand dunes ha Coastal sand hills and ridges and dune slacks Coastal sand hills and ridges and dune slacks
Grazed machair ha Machair grasslands Machair grasslands are dune grasslands on calcium rich sands, usually derived from wind-blown shell sand, and mostly on west facing coasts. Grazed machairs can be important nesting sites especially for wading birds and are usually very diverse in plant species
Cropped machair ha Machair land under rotational cropping Machair that is under rotational cropping and may include fallow areas usually not grazed during Spring and early Summer
Coastal heath ha A herb-rich form of heathland that occurs in exposed locations where the vegetation is strongly influenced by salt spray Species indicating maritime influence such as spring squill, sea plantain, thrift and sheep’s bit scabious are frequent. Heather and other dwarf shrub growth is stunted or prostrate

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Annex G: Biodiversity audit - upland and peatland habitats

Broad category Specific category Unit of measurement Summary of habitat description Detailed habitat description
Uplands and peatlands Upland mixed habitats ha Land where it would be difficult to map individual upland habitats seperately To be used when an area with a complex mix of Heath and/or Bog and/or Upland Grassland are difficult to map individually, in large upland areas particularly. Defined areas of the component habitats can be mapped on top of this category if obvious and distinct and in any case, peatland areas of more than 0.5ha must be mapped
Peatland ha Blanket bog (or moorland bog), or lowland raised bog Blanket bog: often referred to as ‘moorland bog’. Waterlogged ground on peat with a substrate of more than 50 cm deep which are dominated by sphagnum mosses with cotton grasses and sometimes with extensive bog pool systems. Large, open and relatively flat areas.

Lowland raised bog: normally an individual/distinct gently sloping dome of peat. It forms over thousands of years through accumulation of dead plant matter where a pool or lake once was. Dominated by bog mosses (sphagnums), heather species and cotton grasses. Usually evident as a raised area in the landscape compared to its surroundings (sometimes by several metres)
Upland grassland ha Grassland areas above the hill dyke or in large unenclosed areas of hill, moor and mountain This is grassland often referred to as rough grazing, away from lowland in-bye, and above the hill dyke (although it can be found at sea level in the far north-west of Scotland). Land that hasn’t been ploughed or reseeded and can include hay meadows and permanent pastures on upland farms, can include some fields that may have been regularly limed or fertilised
Heath ha Land dominated by heather species. Can be dry, wet or lowland heath Heathland is dominated by heather species, typically by ling heather. Drier area will also have blaeberry and bell heather and wetter areas will have cross leaved heath

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Annex H: Biodiversity audit - designated and historic sites

Broad category Specific category Unit of measurement Summary of habitat description Detailed habitat description
Designations Designated site (SSSI, SAC, SPA) ha The boundary of any designated sites (SSSI, SAC, SPA) that are present on the holding  
Scheduled monument point Indicate the location of any Scheduled Monuments present on the holding  

Annex I: Biodiversity audit - linear feature habitats

Broad category Specific category Unit of measurement Summary habitat description Detailed habitat description
Linear Hedge m   A boundary line of shrubs (generally dominated by hawthorn and blackthorn in Scotland) which can include some trees at full height and may not be continuous (can be a single line or wider and with or without fencing)
Drystone or flagstone dyke m   A drystone or flagstone dyke field boundary, which may be intact or not
Rivers and streams m   Any length of watercourse which runs water from the majority of the year, including ditches that seasonally dry out
Line of trees m   A single line of trees in which individual trees have space to grow their full size i.e. not as part of a hedge

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Annex J: Biodiversity audit - other and point habitats

Broad category Specific category Unit of measurement Summary habitat description Detailed habitat description
Other and point habitats Bracken ha Areas of dense bracken with no forage at the base Individual (not cumulative) areas of dense bracken, defined as having no forage at the base within a land parcel.
Small pockets of bracken of less than 0.01 hectares do not need to be mapped, but if you wish to include these, they can be mapped as a general point (if using Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS)) or a point feature if using NatureScot’s Farm Biodiversity Scotland app
Invasive non-native species (INNS) ha or point Areas covered by invasive non-native plants such as rhododendron, Himalayan balsalm and Japanese knotweed Areas or point features. INNS species to note are as follows: Rhododendron ponticum, Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed, American skunk cabbage and giant rhubarb
General point feature point A point feature for anything that is no invasive non-native plant species (INNS) Anything of note that you would like to record such as an infield tree, rocky knoll or small wader scrape.

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Annex K: Biodiversity audit - how to complete a habitat map using the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS)

Follow this link for guidance on how farmers and crofters can use the online mapping system known as the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) to create their Whole Farm Plan Biodiversity Audit/Habitat Map.

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