From 1934, a census has been carried out almost every year in the Netherlands. The 2010 Agricultural Census (AC), to which the metadata review and data presented here refer, was conducted together with the SAPM.
There is a long history to the agricultural census in the Netherlands. From 1934 onwards a census has been carried out (almost) every year. In recent years it is no longer purely a statistical project, but serves several purposes: on the one hand production of statistics by Statistics Netherlands and creating a frame for sampling, on the other hand providing data on individual holdings for administrative purposes by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (the Ministry). Since the Ministry and Statistics Netherlands have a common interest in the census, it is held as a joint effort. In 1990, it was the last time special meeting days were organised to assess the data from the farmers. On these meeting days, farmers and enumerators jointly filled in the questionnaire manually. In the period 1991 – 1995, these sessions still took place, but the manual procedure was gradually replaced by filling in the information in a computer file. In 1996, the farmer could make a choice between coming to a special meeting place or filling in the survey form himself and returning it by postal mail. From 1997 on, a complete census was organised by postal mail every year. The year 2003 was a pilot year in which respondents had the opportunity to supply the census information through an internet application. In recent years the information is predominantly supplied via the internet. Since the statistical year 2002 the questionnaire of the agricultural census is combined with the application for animal, crop and arable land subsidies (in 2006 also for the single payment scheme). In 2007 data collection for the enforcement of the manure law is also combined in this questionnaire. This is done for efficiency reasons, both for farmers, and for administration and processing of data.
Kind of Data
Census/enumeration data [cen]
Unit of Analysis
The census scope covered agricultural activities (crop and livestock production).
Agriculture & Rural Development
Forests & Forestry
Food (production, crisis)
Land (policy, resource management)
The statistical unit was the agricultural holding, defined as a single unit, both technically and economically, which has a single management and which undertakes agricultural activities listed in Annex Ito the European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No. 1166/2008 within the economic territory of the EU, either as its primary or secondary activity.
Producers and sponsors
Statistics Netherlands and the NSIR
Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation
Statistics Netherlands has a business register of all industrial and non-industrial commercial establishments, but the agricultural holdings are not yet fully covered in this register. The agricultural census therefore relies on the administrative farm register (AFR) of the Ministry held by NSIR, an executive service of the Ministry. By law farmers have to register with NSIR. The AFR contains names, addresses and a few other characteristics of holders or holdings and a unique registration number. With the census information of several years Statistics Netherlands has built up a statistical farm register (SFR). Relevant characteristics from the AFR (a.o. identification number, addresses, legal status) are also stored in the SFR. Changes in addresses are entered into the AFR throughout the year, changes in the SFR of course only once a year. The SFR provides a magnificent basis for stratification and efficient sampling of subsequent agricultural statistics. An annual census may seem expensive (even when only half of the cost is looked upon as expenses for statistics). But the excellent quality of the sample frame allows for relative small samples in related agricultural statistics and thus reduction of costs.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Computer Assisted Web Interview (CAWI)
Data Collection Notes
Data were provided partly from administrative sources and partly from field data collection, based on questionnaires. Field data collection for the AC 2010 took place mainly through the Internet (CAWI method). Only a small percentage of respondents used a paper form (self-interviewing, mail-out/mail-back method). Each holder receives a summons to participate in the AC prior to 1 April and a printed questionnaire was only made available on demand. The administrative sources extensively used in the AC 2010 were: the AFR, the IACS, and the Organic Farming Register (OFR).
One questionnaire was used, integrating both the 2010 AC and the SAPM, and presented to respondents as a single statistical inquiry. The questionnaire covered all 16 core items recommended in the WCA 2010.
1 Work and education
2 Number of animals and housing
3 Horticulture under glass
4 Mushrooms, bulb growing, chicory growing
5 Crops on open land and land use
6 Agricultural land area
8 Farm data
9 Livestock manure
10 Excavation notification (WION)
a. Data collection and data entry
About 85% of the questionnaires was filled in and returned using the web application, which already contained a lotof c hecks and validations. Paper forms were digitized by a data-entry firm and processed by NSIR in the same way as the online questionnaires. There were several quality controls to ensure correct digitization.
b. Data processing, estimation and analysis
Data processing, estimation and analysis were performed in two successive stages:
1. Pre-processing at NSIR
After data collection and data entry the input data go through an extensive error control phase. In this phase checks are made on missing values, valid values, unlikely values, range checks, checks of correlation in the data, checks of totals and so on. When necessary additional information is collected from the farmers by phone. Data that is checked and accepted by NSIR is forwarded to Statistics Netherlands.
2. Processing at Statistics Netherlands
Processing at Statistics Netherlands involves additional error control, enrichment with additional information, such as total SO and typology, imputation for non-response and analysis. Analyses are made at several levels of aggregation and comprise comparison with previous results and agricultural data from other sources.
Checking the information in the questionnaires took place using a special control programme. Data were checked for hard and soft errors. Hard errors are non-valid values. Soft errors are unlikely values. If necessary, the checking personnel contacted the respondent to correct for errors. Approximately 85 percent of the questionnaires were completed online. The online questionnaire application contained extensive interactive controls and edits.
Dissemination is done via the Statline database, which is available on the Internet (www.cbs.nl ). In this database, Internet users may select their own indicators and information topics. Short publications on specific subjects are presented in the form of newspaper or Internet articles. Safe access to census microdata is also provided.
Department of Environmental Statistics,
Team Agriculture and Nature,
Statistics Netherlands Office
Henri Faasdreef 312,
2492 JP Den Haag
2490 HA Den Haag,
Telephone: (+31) (0)703373800
Disclaimer and copyrights
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses