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Specialist Advice

Aimed at identifying business strengths and opportunities, specialist advice plans help you take a deeper look at specific issues of concern or interest with respect to you farming business.

Specialist Advice topics

Funding is available for two topics from the following list:

Animal Welfare – making it easier for businesses to meet regulation requirements, provide the best quality of life for their livestock and improve work-life balance for livestock farmers and crofters. This can cover feeding plans, breeding plans, new animal housing plans and more.

Archaeological and historic site advice – advice on sensitive management of productive land or surrounding habitats, in line with legal requirements.

Biodiversity, habitat and landscape management – guiding businesses to improve their ecological status and journey towards sustainable and resilient systems. This can include species and habitats surveys, habitat creation, and restoration and management.

Carbon audit action plan – follow-up support for businesses who have received a carbon audit and need further advice and support to implement their action plan.

Climate change adaptation and mitigation – guidance for businesses wanting to reduce their climate impact and adapt to Scotland’s changing weather patterns and climate. This can cover energy use efficiency, renewable energy production, and land management for drought or flooding.

Crofter’s plan – a thorough and impartial business review by an experienced crofting adviser, resulting in a flexible, tailored advice plan. A crofter’s plan may cover the following elements:

  • Environmental sustainability, opportunities, and risks.
  • Business finances.
  • Identification of strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for the crofting business.
  • Croft legislative status.

Farm Business Efficiency – improve the efficiency of your business with professional analysis of finances, areas of development, grassland management and soil health, labour, machinery and vehicles, capital, assets and liabilities, diversification options, external sources of finance/funding and more.

Organics – guidance on best practice and accessing the organic market, including organic conversion plans and business efficiency for organic production.

Resilience planning – a popular choice for businesses looking to increase their financial resilience to threats, changes in the market or personal circumstances.  This can include financial analysis, output/profit/margin analysis, business risks and opportunities.

Soil and nutrient management – essential advice for businesses looking to increase their resilience by improve the quality and health of their soil. This can cover stocking planning, fertiliser planning and soil testing.

Succession planning – benefit from expert guidance through one of the hardest stages of running a business, to give you the confidence to change your lifestyle knowing your business is in safe hands. This can include advice on the financial position of the business, its viability, retirement options, successors, legal considerations and tax implications.

Water pollution prevention and control – advice on maintaining and improving water quality on your land and in the surrounding area. This can include hydro-geological survey, wetland creation and management, watercourse buffering, and species and habitat survey and advice.

Woodland management and conservation – professional guidance on the maintenance and creation of woodland, and the best ways to fund and monetise it. This includes woodland management, thinning plans, productivity assessments, woodland creation, species and habitat surveys, management plans and funding guidance.

Why apply?

Specialist advice takes a deep dive into a particular topic. It gives businesses the tools to make significant change in their management of certain areas by addressing a weakness or improving profitability, output, or sustainability.

Benefit from the knowledge of specialist advisers

You can choose from over 130 organisations delivering advice, providing the adviser is adequately qualified in the selected field. If you need assistance identifying specialists, the link below provides details of specialists who have delivered under the programme to date. This is intended to provide you with a useful resource, you are not limited to advisers on this list.

Download the list of Advisers and their skills here

Who can apply?

Specialist advice is open to all farming and crofting businesses, provided that they are registered in Scotland Rural Payments and Services and hold a Business Reference Number (BRN) with IACS.

Specialist advice is suitable for all types of farm and crofting businesses, regardless of experience and situation. As funding is only available for two options, many businesses like to make their choice after careful consideration or after having different types of advice like a carbon audit or an Integrated Land Management Plan, although this is not essential. Your plan will be tailored to your business.

From April 2022, restrictions on the number of specialist advice reports a single business can undertake were reset. Farming and crofting businesses that have already completed two specialist advice reports can apply for the same level of support for a second time.

How much funding is there?

The Scottish Government will fund two specialist advice options per business, with up to £1,000 is available per specialist advice option. This total £2,000 in total.*

*Excluding VAT, (the business must pay the full VAT) except for businesses that are not registered for VAT and will not reclaim the VAT from HM Customs & Excise, in which case the grant will be based on the total cost including VAT.

How to apply

Apply online or download an application form today. Please note that, any grant application submitted via post will experience a delay in processing.  As such, anyone seeking grant funding should do so using our online application forms.

Download your Specialist Advice application form today

Should you need further information, or require a hard copy of this form, please telephone the Farm Advisory Service advice line on 0300 323 0161.

Download the Specialist Advice rules and procedures

If you have any queries regarding specialist advice, please contact advice line on 0300 323 0161 or and we will be pleased to talk through the options.


*Excluding VAT, (the business must pay the full VAT) except for businesses that are not registered for VAT and will not reclaim the VAT from HM Customs & Excise, in which case the grant will be based on the total cost including VAT.

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