Consumption of inorganic fertilizers (aei_fm_usefert)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

1.2. Contact organisation unit


1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 02/06/2017
2.2. Metadata last posted 02/06/2017
2.3. Metadata last update 02/06/2017

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Fertilisers contain important nutrients, such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), which plants absorb from the soil for their growth. With the harvest of crops for human and livestock consumption and industrial uses, N and P is removed from the soil. Continuing agricultural production without fertilisation could lead to soil degradation and erosion. Fertilisers are therefore essential to sustain agricultural production. Fertilisers are also used to improve crop yields and soils.

The use of manufactured fertilizers as a regular farming practice began in most European countries in the mid to late nineteenth century but the greatest increase in consumption in these countries occurred in the three decades following World War II. The manufacturing of fertilisers greatly enhanced crop yields and agricultural production, and aided the large increase in the world population in the 20th Century.

However when the amount of fertiliser applied exceeds the plants' nutritional requirements, there is a greater risk of nutrient losses from agricultural soils into ground and surface water. The resulting higher concentration of nutrients (eutrophication) can cause serious degradation of ecosystems. With the storage and application to the land of manufactured fertilisers, Nitrogen can volatilise into the air as ammonia contributing to acidification, eutrophication and atmospheric particulate pollution, and nitrous oxides, a potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.  In addition fertilisers may also have adverse environmental effects resulting from their production processes. More specifically, nitrogenous fertilisers require large amounts of energy to be produced leading potentially to higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions. In a different way, phosphorus fertilisers also have an environmental impact, since the raw materials used to produce them are mined, therefore potentially leading to landscape destruction, water contamination, excessive water consumption or air pollution.

This table contains data on the total use of manufactured fertilisers expressed in tonnes of N and tonnes of P received from the countries. Manufactured fertilisers are also often referred to as inorganic fertilisers or mineral fertilisers. For a definition see 3.4.

3.2. Classification system

Not applicable.

3.3. Coverage - sector


3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

Inorganic fertilizer’ means a fertilizer in which the declared nutrients are in the form of minerals obtained by extraction or by physical and/or chemical industrial processes. Calcium cyanamide, urea and its condensation and association products, and fertilizers containing chelated or complex micro-nutrients may, by convention, be classed as inorganic fertilizers (Regulation (EC) No 2003/2003).

In the context of this table inorganic fertilisers refer to inorganic fertilisers applied to agricultural land.

3.5. Statistical unit

Countries have reported data on the use of inorganic fertilisers in agriculture at NUTS 0 level. Some countries have also reported data at NUTS 2 level.

3.6. Statistical population

The data on inorganic fertiliser use in agriculture are reported by countries at NUTS 0. In some cases data have also been provided at NUTS 2 level.

In principle only the consumption of inorganic fertilisers in agriculture should be covered. Countries have used different methodologies and data sources to estimate the use of inorganic fertilisers in agriculture. It is often difficult to distinguish between agricultural and non-agricultural use, the data reported by countries therefore may include non-agricultural use.

3.7. Reference area

EU28 Member States, Norway and Switzerland, and their regions down to NUTS 2 level where appropriate.

3.8. Coverage - Time


3.9. Base period

Not applicable.

4. Unit of measure Top

Variables are measured in tonnes of N and tonnes of P.

5. Reference Period Top

Data have been asked by calendar year. However at the moment countries have used different methodologies and data sources and data may therefore also refer to other periods e.g. crop year.

The reference period is the calendar year. Data collection is however not harmonised at EU level. Countries collect data for different reference periods. Countries may therefore report data collected for crop years (t-1/t) in calendar year t without any corrections.

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

Eurostat has no legal act in place requiring these data. Consumption of inorganic fertilisers in agriculture is however one of the 28 Agri-environmental indicators (AEI) being developed by the Commission as mentioned in the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the development of agri-environmental indicators for monitoring the integration of environmental concerns into the common agricultural policy (COM(2006) 508 final).

Data have been collected from the countries by "gentleman's" agreement.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable.

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Not applicable.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Not applicable.

8.2. Release calendar access

Not applicable.

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see item 10 - 'Accessibility and clarity') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

Provisional data for year t-1 are delivered annually to Eurostat by the 1st of May. Final data for year t-1 are delivered annually to Eurostat by the 1st of December.

10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

News releases on-line.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Data are published in the online publication on Agri-environmental indicators available at the following link.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data on-line or refer to contact details.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Not applicable.

10.6. Documentation on methodology

Methodology and data transmission are discussed with countries in Eurostat Working Groups. Documentation is available at Access for non-members may however be restricted.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

Data quality and validation are discussed with countries in Eurostat Working Groups. Documentation is available at Access for non-members may however be restricted.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Data quality and validation are discussed with countries in Eurostat Working Groups. Documentation is available at Access for non-memers may however be restricted.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

Data on fertiliser consumption is available in many countries from country specific data sources (surveys, trade/production statistics). Due to different data sources used (farmer surveys vs trade/production statistics) and inherent problems of data sources used (for instance inclusion of non-agricultural use in statistics based on trade and production) the quality of data cannot be sufficiently verified. There is need for a common methodology to estimate Fertiliser consumption by agriculture to ensure reliable and consistent estimations and comparability across Member States.

Eurostat promoted in 2012 the establishment of national discussion groups for fertiliser statistics. The objectives of these groups were:

  • Discuss the quality of existing data sources.
  • Propose and implement improvements in quality or data availability.
  • Propose and implement a strategy to estimate data as required by Eurostat.
  • Establish official statistics.
  • Ensure coherence and consistency of statistics reported to the European Commission and other international obligations.

Many countries have established such discussion groups. Results are shared at Eurostat Working Group meetings. 

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

Main users are the general public and policy-makers interested in the integration of environmental concerns into the Common Agricultural Policy (see COM (2006) 508 final).

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Not applicable.

12.3. Completeness

Data have been received from most countries. Data were not available for Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Lithuania and Malta for the requested period. Data from National Inventory Submissions to UNFCCC, Fertilizers Europe and FAOSTAT have been used to complete the missing data. Data from Fertilisers Europe are published in table aei_fm_manfert in the online database of Eurostat as well. A description of this data source can be found at the following link. The last update of data has not yet been received from Belgium, Denmark and Estonia.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

Most countries use data based on sales and/or production and trade statistics. Some countries use farmer surveys. Data based on sales and/or production and trade statistics may be biased due to the inclusion of fertilizers not used in agriculture (private/public sector use, explosives, intermediate products etc). Reliability and accuracy of farmer surveys depend a.o. on the sampling design and size.

13.2. Sampling error

Not applicable.

13.3. Non-sampling error

Not applicable.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Data are requested by gentlemen's agreement. Data received are validated and uploaded in Eurostat database.

14.2. Punctuality

Not applicable.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

Geographical comparability is limited due to different methodologies and data sources applied.

15.2. Comparability - over time

In general good comparability within countries over time.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

In table aei_pr_gnb data on mineral fertiliser consumption are reported as well.  Eurostat is aiming at establishing a harmonised data collection system for mineral fertiliser consumption and gross nutrient balances, based on the data coherent with the submissions to UNFCCC. Many countries have established the discussion groups for fertiliser statistics to ensure coherence and consistency of statistics reported to the European Commission and other international obligations. Some countries have already implemented the improved methodologies and, subsequently, the coherence of reported data has also improved. However, at the moment not all the data in tables aei_fm_usefert and aei_pr_gnb are coherent yet.

Differences are also expected with table aei_fm_manfert, due to different methodlogy and data sources used.

15.4. Coherence - internal

Not applicable.

16. Cost and Burden Top

Data are mainly derived from existing data sources and reporting requirements.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

Revisions are made if and when countries revise the data or new data come available.

17.2. Data revision - practice

Not applicable.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Countries have used different methodologies and data sources, such as farmer survey, sales statistics, production/trade statistics etc.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Provisional data for year t-1 are delivered annually to Eurostat by the 1st of May. Final data for year t-1 are delivered annually to Eurostat by the 1st of December.

18.3. Data collection

Data are received using a pre-described format from the countries based on gentlemen's agreement.

18.4. Data validation

Data validation includes checks with data from available data sources in Eurostat, National Inventory Submissions to UNFCCC, Fertilizers Europe, etc.

18.5. Data compilation

Not applicable.

18.6. Adjustment

Not applicable.

19. Comment Top

Not applicable.

Related metadata Top
aei_pr_gnb_esms - Gross nutrient balance

Annexes Top