E1: Area of productive agricultural land

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Short description

Agriculture provides around 75% of the indigenous food* we eat and accounts for around 70% of land use. As well as being vital for food production, agriculture helps to shape the landscape, providing important recreational, spiritual and other cultural benefits. This indicator shows annual changes in land used for agriculture in 3 categories: grassland (including sole rough grazing); crops (including horticulture and perennial crops); and uncropped arable (land left fallow or under environmental management). Agricultural production and the associated land use and management are key drivers of the environmental impacts from the sector. A key policy challenge is to de-couple production from environmental impact. The indicator may be considered a measure of pressure on the environment, a measure of condition of the land asset, or a measure of service/benefit we derive from the land. The indicator is included in the framework to provide contextual information.

*Food which can be produced in the climatic conditions of the UK.

Data on the structure of the agricultural industry in England are already published annually as National Statistics.

Trend description

After a period of decline in the late 1980s, land use by agriculture has remained relatively stable. Similarly, the split between crops and grazing has remained relatively constant over this time, with grassland accounting for around half of agricultural land (52% in 2020) and crops a little under half (45% in 2020).


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This table provides metadata for the interim or final indicator presented above.

Indicator name

Area of productive agricultural land

Indicator reference


Outcome Indicator Framework theme

Natural Resources

Headline indicator status

Production and harvesting of natural resources

Relevant goal(s) in the 25 Year Environment Plan
  • Using resources from nature more sustainably and efficiently
Relevant target(s) in the 25 Year Environment Plan
  • Ensuring that food is produced sustainably and profitably
Position in the natural capital framework
  • Condition of assets - land
Related reporting commitments
  • None
Geographic scope


Status of indicator development


Date last updated

11 June 2021