THE final results of the June 2020 Agricultural Census have been released by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
The statistics provide estimates of crop areas and numbers of livestock on active farm businesses on the survey date of June 1, 2020.
The statistics are compiled from a survey of farm businesses augmented by administrative data. In response to Covid-19, the data collection for the 2020 Farm Census moved entirely online for the first time. The questions on the survey were streamlined to reduce the burden on farmers, and this was supported by a media campaign to encourage completion.
A large response was achieved from the online-only collection and focussed telephone follow-up compared to online returns in previous years. This has enabled detailed farm census statistics to be produced.
The main changes between June 2019 and June 2020 are:
Total area farmed: The total area farmed (excluding common land) was approximately one million hectares (1,016,000 hect-ares), a decrease of one per cent compared to 2019.
Cattle: Total cattle numbers have remained the same at 1,610,000. The number of beef cows has reduced by one per cent to 244,700 and the number of dairy cow has remained the same as in 2019.
Sheep: There was a one per cent decrease in the number of breeding ewes compared with 2019, with numbers falling to 931,000. Overall, the total number of sheep recorded was just under two million (1,960,000) which is a one per cent fall from June 2019.
Pigs: Overall, there was a one per cent decrease in Northern Ireland total pig numbers recorded in June 2020 to 667,600.The decrease in pig numbers was mainly as a result of a lower number of fattening pigs. Data on pigs were collected in the census compared to previous years when the Annual Pig Inventory data was used. Further detail on the changes will be described in full in the Final Publication.
Poultry: Overall, there was a five per cent decrease in total poultry numbers on farms at June 2020 to 23.4 million birds. Data on poultry were collected in the census compared to previous years when the Annual Bird Register data was used. Further detail on the changes will be described in full in the Final Publication.
Crops: The total area of crops grown in NI in 2020 was 45,000 hectares, the same as in 2019. The total area of cereals grown in 2020 was down by three per cent compared to 2019 at 29,100 hectares. Wheat crops fell by 14 per cent to 7,000 hectares. Oats and winter barley remained broadly the same and Spring Barley rose by four per cent to 12,400 hectares.
n The census can be viewed at: www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/agricultural-census-northern-ireland