Current “market dynamics” have “pressurised” some farmers into considering alternative farming activities in order to increase or diversify their income, according to new research published today (Monday, July 8).

The research, from wealth manager, Investec Wealth & Investment (UK), surveyed 100 freehold farmers across the UK and found that eight out of 10 farmers were currently trying “farming alternatives”.

All of the farmers surveyed said that they were using at least some of their land in “non-traditional ways”.

According to the research one of the most popular diversification alternatives is “increasing biodiversity”.

The most popular top ten new enterprises started by farmers included:

  • Using land for biodiversity activities such as carbon capture or tree planting (66%);
  • Producing new products such as cheese (43%)
  • Community Supported Agriculture, where customers get regular deliveries of fresh produce or other farm products (38%);
  • Participating in farmers’ markets (35%);
  • Tourism projects such as holiday cottages (25%);
  • Farming new livestock (24%);
  • Farming new crops (19%);
  • Contract farming (18%)
  • Using land for renewable energy such as solar panels (17%);
  • Launching a ‘pick your own’ projects (16%).

The majority of farmers surveyed said they had been running their new enterprises for at least two years or more, and that they had experienced an improvement in their farm’s income during this time.


The research suggests that more than one in 10 (12%) of the farmers surveyed reported that diversification projects contributed to between 15% and 20% of their farm’s annual income while 77% said it contributed between 10% and 15%.

Over one in 10 (12%) also reported that alternative farming activities contributed between 5% and 10% of their farm’s total income.

Scott Jones from Investec Wealth & Investment (UK), said: “Our survey shows that some farmers are having to diversify away – at least in part – from traditional arable, dairy and livestock farming.

“Many feel that they are being led to these new enterprises because of the current market dynamics, but that they are also proving to be economically attractive.

” There doesn’t appear to be a one-size-fits-all approach to diversification with farmers showing their entrepreneurial spirit to try out a whole host of new ways to use their land, from carbon capture, to glamping, making new products or even contract farming with local supply chains”.