Owners of UK country estates are turning to commercial opportunities, such as office lets, to boost takings in the face of a pressure on agriculture income which is "to continue", Savills said.
Estate owners are - encouraged by a relaxation in May of UK planning laws, and by an acceleration in economic growth to 0.6% in the second quarter from 0.3% in the first - looking to non-agricultural areas such as turning barns into industrial units to bolster income.
"The increasing optimism in the economic outlook is reflected in more enquiries to rent commercial space, which is helping to boost rents and reduce void periods and debtors," Sophie Barrett at Savills said.
"This optimism is encouraging estates to pursue opportunities to develop underutilised assets and to seek to generate new income streams."
The performance of estate's commercial operations will "improve, following a dip during a recession", the property agency said.
Mobile masts down
Already, the recovery in commercial incomes had increased the proportion of estate income from commercial operations to 15% of the total, from 13% last year, and 8% in 2000.
The increase comes despite a sharp decrease in one easy earner of the past, mobile telephone masts, for which income has tumbled by 27% from a high four years ago to £5,287 per site.
"As well as reduced unit income, the density of masts has fallen adding an additional pressure to overall incomes from this asset," Savills said.
The proportion of income from agriculture, at 35%, has fallen from 49% at the start of the century, and while growing this year, by 2.3%, that is down to rental takings rather than estates' own farming operations.
Thanks to last year's "difficult harvest", hurt by the second wettest year for the UK on record, income from in-hand farms tumbled 33% to £88 per acre, Savills said.
Income from contract farming dropped in line to £111 per acre.
The group forecast that pressure on incomes from these operations will "continue as the additional costs of redrilling 2013 harvest winter crops with spring crops takes its toll on cash flows into the 2014 harvest year".