Despite a lengthy recession, an unsettling independence referendum, much uncertainty over land taxation, and an eagerly awaited outcome of CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) discussions, not to mention the Scottish Rural Development Programme, farmland in Scotland has been steadily increasing in value over the last five years, according to land agents Smiths Gore.

In addition, although there has been less farmland for sale, the number of sales each year has also increased in the same period.

John Coleman, head of farms and estate agency for Smiths Gore in Scotland said: "Average arable farmland values have gone up gradually from £5,800 per acre in 2009 to £7,300 per acre in 2014 with the range between marginal land and good land widening still further.

"Equipped land values are up 7 per cent in the last 12 months alone reflecting a slight improvement in house prices, and bare land has risen by 5 per cent over the same period.

"The number of farms offered for sale this year so far (to the third quarter) is 141, which is more than any other year has achieved in the whole 12 months, even though the number of acres marketed to date is only around 31,600 - which is 6,000 acres less than the last two years."

Mr Coleman went on to explain that while there is a notable lack of available land in Scotland, buyers remain reluctant to pay premium prices even in competition, which he reckons is down to a tendency to no action when political change is in the air but also to poor commodity prices in 2014.

"Prime arable land values have levelled off at around £8,000 per acre and average Grade 3 land is around £6,500 per acre.

"Good quality pasture remains sought after with prices peaking at around £4,000 per acre, more marginal grazing land at around £3,250 per acre and hill and rough grazing achieving between £750 and £1,500 per acre," said Mr Coleman.

"Upland farm sales are a rare occurrence this year with both buyers and sellers awaiting the outcome of the delayed CAP reforms, their detail and how they will relate to Scotland.

"But there is a degree of optimism out there in the market which is sure to be reflected as we go forward into 2015." he added.

Market round-up

Harrison & Hetherington Ltd sold 301 heifer suckled calves in Lockerbie on Tuesday to a top of 308.5p per kg and an average of 212.4p (+2.4p on the year), while 310 bullock calves peaked at 332p and levelled at 226.5p (-0.3p).

United Auctions sold 72 pedigree Simmental bulls at Stirling on Tuesday to a top of 16,000gns and an average of £5,852 (+£211 on the year) for a 68% clearance. The firm went on to sell 84 pedigree Charolais bulls at the same venue yesterday to 22,000gns and an average of £6,654 (+£64) for a 76% clearance.