Agricultural census in Denmark

Data from November 2012. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Due to that the agricultural census is carried out every ten years, the next update of this article will take place in December 2022.

This article is part of a series of country-specific essays on the results of the European Union (EU) Farm structure survey (FSS) 2010. The FSS collects information on the structural characteristics of agricultural holdings (land use, livestock and labour force) and is carried out by all European Union Member States every 10 years as an Agricultural census, with two or three additional, intermediate sample surveys carried out in-between.

The present analysis of Danish farm structure includes a comparison with the Agricultural census 2000. However, Denmark experienced an extensive regional reform over the inter-census period, which led to the creation of new administrative regions. As a consequence, the NUTS 3 regions used for the FSS 2000 do not generally correspond to the new NUTS level 2 regions applicable in 2010. Therefore, it is not possible to compare regional data for the two reference years (2000 and 2010) and comparisons have only been made at national level.

Table 1: Farm structure, key indicators, Denmark, 2000 and 2010
Source: Eurostat (ef_kvaareg) (ef_ov_kvaa) (demo_pjan) and FSS 2000 and 2010
Table 2: Farm structure, key indicators, by NUTS 2 regions, Denmark, 2010
Source: Eurostat (ef_kvaareg) (ef_ov_kvaa) and FSS 2000 and 2010
Figure 1: Number of holdings and utilised agriculture area (UAA) by UAA size classes, Denmark, 2010 (%)
Source: Eurostat (ef_kvaareg) (ef_ov_kvaa)
Table 3: Economic size of the farm by standard output size classes, Denmark, 2007 and 2010 (EUR)
Source: Eurostat FSS, 2007 and 2010
Figure 2: Number of holdings by main type of farming, Denmark, 2010 (%)
Source: Eurostat (ef_kvftreg)
Figure 3: Standard output by main type of farming, Denmark, 2010 (%)
Source: Eurostat (ef_kvftreg)
Figure 4: Utilised Agricultural Area by land use, Denmark, 2000 and 2010 (%)
Source: Eurostat (ef_lu_ovcropaa) (ef_oluaareg)
Table 4: Utilised Agricultural Area by land use, Denmark, 2000 and 2010
Source: Eurostat (ef_lu_ovcropaa) (ef_oluaareg)
Figure 5: Livestock by main types, Denmark, 2000 and 2010 (1000 LSU)
Source: Eurostat FSS, 2000 and 2010
Table 5: Number of holdings with livestock by LSU size class, Denmark, 2000 and 2010
Source: Eurostat FSS, 2000 and 2010
Table 6: Agricultural labour force, Denmark, 2000 and 2010
Source: Eurostat FSS, 2000 and 2010
Figure 6: Sole holders by gender, Denmark, 2000 and 2010 (%)
Source: Eurostat FSS, 2000 and 2010
Table 7: Utilised agricultural area by type of tenure, by NUTS 2 regions, Denmark, 2010
Source: Eurostat (ef_mptenure)
Figure 7: Irrigated area by type of crop, Denmark, 2010
Source: Eurostat (ef_poirrig)
Table 8: Key figures on irrigation, Denmark, 2010
Source: Eurostat FSS, 2010
Table 9: Number of holdings with cattle and places by type of animal housing, Denmark, 2010
Source: Source: Eurostat (ef_pmhouscatlaa)
Table 10: Number of holdings by other gainful activities, by NUTS 2 regions, Denmark, 2010
Source: Eurostat FSS 2010
Table 11: Organic farming, number of holdings and utilised agricultural area, Denmark, 2010
Source: Eurostat FSS 2000 and 2010

Main statistical findings

Key indicators

In Denmark, there were 42 100 agricultural holdings in 2010 (see Table 1). Compared to the other Scandinavian countries, both Norway (46 620) and Sweden (71 090) recorded higher numbers. About 16 000 farms ceased their activities in Denmark (-27%) over the inter-census period. However, this declining trend in the number of farms was common among the countries of the EU-27.

The utilised agricultural area (UAA) in Denmark remained fairly stable between the two reference years; there were 2.6 million hectares in 2010, covering 61% of the entire country in 2010. This was one of the highest proportions recorded in the EU-27.

As the number of farms decreased and agricultural land remained stable, the average size of the holdings grew (+37%): from 46 hectares per farm in 2000 to 63 hectares in 2010. As a result, Denmark was among the EU Member States with the highest average area per farm.

Similar to the other Scandinavian countries, in Denmark the number of people regularly working on farms decreased over the period under analysis (-22%). In absolute terms 22 550 people left the agricultural sector over the inter-census period. As a result, the agricultural labour force represented only 2.8% of the active population[1] in 2010; the corresponding values in Sweden (2.9%) and Norway (4.8%) were slightly higher.

As shown in Table 1, there were 4.9 million livestock in Denmark in 2010. This value, expressed in livestock units (LSU), is a 13% increase compared to 2000 (+557 630 LSU) when about 4.3 million LSU were recorded. Both Norway (1.2 million LSU) and Sweden (1.7 million LSU) recorded lower values in 2010.

Agricultural holdings

As shown in Figure 1, three size classes of farms were equally common in Denmark, each with 19% of the total population of farms. These three size classes were 5 to 9.9 hectares of agricultural land, 10 to 19.9 hectares and 100 or more hectares of agricultural area. In addition holdings with at least 100 hectares of agricultural land (8 080 farms) covered about 1.7 million hectares of UAA, accounting for 66% of the country’s agricultural area in 2010.

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2000 and 2010

Economic size of the farm

In 2010, the total standard output (SO) of Danish agricultural holdings was EUR 8 430 million. This was the highest value of the three Scandinavian countries (Sweden EUR 3 733 million, Norway EUR 3 156 million). Over the 2007-2010 timeframe the standard output, which is calculated by adding all the standard output values per hectare of crop and per head of livestock on the farms, increased by 22% in Denmark. The increase was mostly the result of a boost in the standard output of the largest class of farms – holdings with EUR 500 000 or more of standard output – which increased by 49% (+ EUR 1 860 million). As expected, this largest class of farm accounted for the majority (67%) of Danish standard output in 2010.

Among the Danish territories, the largest economic value was found in Syddanmark (EUR 2 836 million), 33% of the Danish SO. The second highest figure was in the region of Midtjylland (EUR 2 660 million), corresponding to 31% of the country’s standard output in 2010.

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2010 and 2007

Agricultural holdings by main type of farming

In terms of the main types of farming, farms specialised in cereals, oilseed and protein crops were the most common, representing 29% of the entire population of holdings in 2010 (see Figure 2). Farms specialised in general field cropping made up the second highest proportion (12%), followed by holdings dedicated to sheep, goats and other grazing livestock (10%).

If the economic size is taken into account, the ranking looks different and there were two main types of farms, together accounting for 62% of the Danish standard output: specialist pig farms (38%) and dairy farms (24%).

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2010

Land use

The Utilised Agricultural Area (UAA) is the total area used by a farm, regardless of the type of tenure or whether it is used as a part of common land. It includes four major components: arable land, permanent grassland and meadow, permanent crops and kitchen gardens.

The agricultural area in Denmark was mostly arable land (91%) in 2010, down 54 640 hectares compared with 2000 (-2.2%). In contrast, permanent grassland and meadow increased by 38 840 hectares (+24%) and stood at 199 860 hectares in 2010.

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2000 and2010

Arable land

In 2010, Danish arable land was mostly made up of cereals (1.5 million ha), which covered more than half (55%) of the country’s agricultural area. Fodder crops also covered a significant portion, accounting for 21% of the entire agricultural land (562 360 ha) and increasing by 151 880 hectares (+37%) over the decade. Industrial crops made up a further 6.3% with 165 720 hectares, an increase of 15 200 hectares compared to 2000.

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2000 and 2010

Permanent grassland

As shown in Table 4, permanent grassland covered 7.6% of the Danish agricultural area in 2010 (199 860 ha). Pasture and meadow represented its largest component (101 260 ha), though it decreased by 58 270 hectares (-37%) between the two reference years. In contrast, the area of rough grazing increased considerably from 1 490 hectares in 2000 to 36 080 hectares in 2010, although it only accounted for 1.4% of the country’s UAA in 2010.

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2000 and 2010


Statistics on livestock use two different units of measurement, the number of head (number of animals) and the livestock unit (LSU), with the latter allowing comparison between different types.

As presented in Table 5, 26 030 holdings were farming about 4.9 million LSU in Denmark in 2010. Although the number of farms with livestock decreased sharply (-35%) over the period under analysis, the population of farm animals grew (+13%). As a result, the average number of livestock per farm increased from 108 LSU per farm in 2000 to 189 LSU per holding in 2010. Far from being evenly spread across all the livestock size categories of farms, this growth was seen only in the biggest type of holdings – those with 500 or more LSU – which saw increases in both the number of holdings (+78%) and the livestock population (+2 million LSU). Compared to 2000, all other size classes of livestock farms saw reductions in both the number of farms and the population of farm animals.

In Denmark, pigs were the most common livestock with 3.5 million LSU (+27%), accounting for 71% of the Danish population of farm animals in 2010. Cattle were the only other livestock with an LSU of more than one million (1.1 million LSU); they represented 23% of the whole country’s LSU in 2010 despite the fact that they decreased by 15% compared to 2000.

Among the Danish regions, the largest proportions of livestock were located in Midtjylland (34%), Syddanmark (32%) and Nordjylland (22%); together they accounted for 88% of the Danish livestock population in 2010. In particular, Syddanmark had the highest proportion of cattle (39%), while the largest percentage of pigs (35%) was in Midtjylland.

See detailed data at Nuts 2 level for 2010 and 2000

Labour force

As presented in Table 6, about 80 000 people were regularly working in the agricultural sector in Denmark in 2010, a decrease of 22% from 2000. This declining trend was observed throughout the EU-27. The proportional decrease in the agricultural labour force in Denmark is quite similar (-21%) if the annual work unit (AWU) is used: there were 52 300 AWUs in 2010.

In 2010, most of the regular agricultural labour force was located in the regions of Syddanmark (30%) and Midtjylland (30%). This is expected since these two regions contained the largest numbers of farms.

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level on holders' age and gender for 2010 and 2000

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level on type of labour force for 2010 and 2000

Management practices

Type of tenure

In 2010, the majority (69%) of Danish agricultural land was farmed by tenants and the remaining 31% by the farm owners (see Table 7). This split was fairly consistent across the regions. There was no land utilised in partnership by the landlord and the sharecropper under a written or oral share-farming contract in Denmark.


In Denmark, the total irrigable area increased by 7.5% over the decade under analysis from 446 920 to 480 440 hectares. In 2010, 323 500 hectares had been irrigated at least once a year, covering 12% of the country’s agricultural area. However it must be noted that the extent of the irrigated area varies over the years according to the weather conditions.

The largest area irrigated in 2010 was cereals (excluding maize and rice) with 153 730 hectares, accounting for about half (48%) of the Danish irrigated area. As shown in Figure 7, temporary and permanent grass was the second most irrigated crop (82 740 ha, 26%), followed by maize (grain and green) with 29 590 hectares, corresponding to 9.2% of the total irrigated area, and potatoes (27 570 hectares, 8.6%).

In Denmark, about 220 million cubic metres of water were used to irrigate the 323 500 hectares of agricultural crops and grassland. This equates to an average of 680 cubic metres of water per hectare. Information on the amount of irrigation water used was obtained through a specific question in the survey. A total of 3 863 farms that irrigated crops were sampled in the SAPM, of which 833 did not answer the question. In these cases data were imputed so that a national estimate could be made.

Among the Danish regions, Hovedstaden (893 cubic metres per hectare) used the largest amount of irrigation water, followed by Midtjylland (724 cubic metres per hectare). The region of Nordjylland used the lowest volume with an average of 555 cubic metres per hectare.

Animal housing

In 2010, 13 580 holdings farmed about 1.6 million head of cattle in Denmark. Compared to the other Scandinavian countries, both Sweden (21 590) and Norway (16 900) recorded a higher number of farms with cattle.

The most common types of cattle housing in Denmark were those where the animals are allowed to move freely (loose housing). Going by farm numbers, loose housing where the manure is removed from the building mechanically as solid dung was the most popular with 9 400 holdings having this type of housing. However, going by the animal capacity, loose housing where the animal waste drops below the floor into a pit to form slurry had the largest capacity with 887 010 places. Similar to many other EU member States, the total capacity of cattle housing in Denmark was higher than the number of heads of cattle, which explains why the related ratio is higher than 100% (see Table 9).

Other gainful activities

As presented in Table 10, there were 21 900 farms with other gainful activities in 2010 in Denmark. Representing more than half (52%) of the Danish population of agricultural holdings, these farms undertook activities other than farm work, directly related to the holding and having an economic impact on it. Compared to the other Scandinavian countries, both Norway (25 500) and Sweden (24 050) recorded higher numbers.

Information on other gainful activities was collected for eleven different categories; a holding could record more than one activity. Forestry work (12 950 farms) was by far the most common type of extra activity, followed by contractual work (6 400 farms), which could take the form of contractual agricultural work (5 420 holdings) and contractual non-agricultural work (2 420 farms).

Among the Danish regions, the largest numbers of farms with other gainful activities were in Midtjylland (6 950 farms) and Syddanmark (6 180 farms), accounting for 32% and 28% respectively of the population of holdings with extra sources of income.

Organic farming

Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on the minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain or enhance ecological harmony.

Although the number of holdings practising organic farming decreased by 17% between 2000 and 2010 to 2 100 farms, the agricultural area increased slightly (0.7%) to 150 940 hectares. Nonetheless, the organic area covered only 5.7% of Danish agricultural area. Compared to the other Scandinavian countries, Sweden (310 060 ha) reported a higher area under organic farming, while Norway recorded a lower value (43 740 ha).

See detailed data at Nuts 2 level for 2010, 2007, 2005, 2003 and 2000

Data sources and availability

Methodological notes Denmark – Agricultural census 2010

The FSS 2010 was conducted by the division responsible for agricultural statistics of Statistics Denmark. The Agricultural census in its present form goes back to 1977 when the surveys on agriculture and horticulture were integrated. Since then the survey has been carried out every year, though not always in an extensive form.

Survey on agricultural production methods (SAPM)

In 2010 a unique survey was carried out together with the Agricultural census, the Survey on agricultural productions methods (SAPM). This survey collected data at regional level needed to establish agri-environmental indicators as indicated in COM final 508/2006 and to evaluate the greening of the Common agricultural policy.

Data were collected according to the specifications listed in Annex V of the above mentioned regulation, namely data on tillage methods, soil conservation, landscape features, animal grazing, animal housing, manure application, manure storage and treatment facilities and irrigation.

In Denmark, the SAPM was conducted as a sample survey; a stratified sampling method was used to select 15 005 holdings from the population of 42 100.

Reference period

Information on the structure of Danish agriculture was collected as of 14 May 2010. However, data on the labour force, including other gainful activities, refer to the 12 month period prior to this reference date. Furthermore, information on rural development characteristics was collected as of the calendar year 2008-2010.

Contrary to the FSS, the SAPM took place in 2011 and the reference period is July 2011. Information on tillage methods and manure application concerns the crop year (October 2009 – September 2010) prior to the reference date.

Thresholds for agricultural holdings

In compliance with the EU regulation 1166/2008, Statistics Denmark surveyed all agricultural holdings with at least 5 hectares of agricultural area or a standard output of at least EUR 7 500. Moreover, all farms falling below this threshold but complying with a set of different physical thresholds (related to the area of certain types of crops or heads of livestock) were also included in the target population.

In Denmark, the thresholds for excluding the smallest units from the survey have been revised over the years. In particular, the new thresholds introduced with the EU regulation 1166/2008 led to the inclusion of 431 more farms in the Danish farm structure census 2010. Denmark also chose to include farms with furred animals from 2010 onwards, which resulted in a further 736 farms being added to the 2010 population. Overall, these 1 167 extra farms, which would not have been included otherwise, account for 2.8% of the farms in Denmark, 0.03% of the Danish agricultural area and 0.07% of the country’s livestock units.

Common land

Common land is the land that does not directly belong to any agricultural holding but on which common rights apply. It can consist of pasture, horticultural or other land. The treatment of the common land used by an agricultural holding might differ from country to country.

In Denmark, common land does not exist, as all the agricultural area belongs to somebody. For this reason, common land has never been covered by the Farm Structure Survey in this country.

Geo-reference of the holding

In Denmark, information on the location of the farms is stored in the Danish business register and refers to the address of the head quarter of the holding.

Economic size

From FSS 2007 onwards, the Standard output (SO), a new classification of the economic size of the holding, is used. The SO has replaced the Standard gross margin (SGM) used before. Nonetheless, for comparability reasons, in FSS 2007 both classifications are available.

Other methodological issues

In Denmark, following an extensive regional reform, new administrative regions were created and new NUTS level 2 regions were defined in 2006. The previous NUTS 3 regions used for the FSS 2000 do not generally correspond to the new NUTS level 2 regions applicable in 2010. Therefore, it is not possible to compare regional data for years 2000 and 2010.


European Commission Rural development policy aims to improve competitiveness in agriculture and forestry, the environment and the countryside, as well as to improve the quality of life in rural areas, and to encourage the diversification of rural economies.

As agriculture has been modernised and the importance of industry and services within the economy has increased, agriculture has become much less important as a source of jobs. Consequently, increasing emphasis is placed on the role farmers can play in rural development, including forestry, biodiversity and the diversification of the rural economy, in order to create alternative jobs and provide environmental protection in rural areas.

The FSS continues to adapt in order to provide timely and relevant data to help analyse and follow these developments.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Main tables

Farm structure: historical data (1990-2007) (t_ef)


Farm structure (ef)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

Other information

  • Regulation 1166/2008 of 19 November 2008 on farm structure surveys and the survey on agricultural production methods and repealing Council Regulation 571/88
  • Regulation 1200/2009 of 30 November 2009 implementing Regulation 1166/2008 on farm structure surveys and the survey on agricultural production methods, as regards livestock unit coefficients and definitions of the characteristics

External links


  1. A value calculated over the active population in the 4th quarter 2010 of the EU Labour force survey (LFS) Population, activity and inactivity - quarterly data