Archive:Agricultural census in Sweden

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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 the 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. In Sweden, the present analysis of the farm structure includes a comparison with the previous (1999) Agricultural census. Although the reference years of the Agricultural census in Sweden are 1999 and 2010 respectively, the common designation is Agricultural census 2000 and 2010

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

Main statistical findings

Key indicators

In 2010 there were 71 090 agricultural holdings in Sweden (see Table 1), the highest number among the Scandinavian countries. After the year 2000 the number of agricultural holdings decreased by 12.7 %, as it did in most of the European Member States. In absolute terms, more than 10 000 holdings closed down during the 2000-2010 decade.

The utilised agricultural area (UAA) represented 7 % of the Swedish territory in 2010, a share that was found to be the smallest within the EU-27, together with the value recorded in Finland. Furthermore, the UAA remained fairly stable compared with the 2000 data (-0.2 %). On the contrary, the average size of the holdings increased from 37.7 ha to 43.1 ha, so that in 2010 Sweden was ranked among the EU Member States with the highest average area per agricultural holding: among the Scandinavian countries only Denmark recorded a higher value. Far from being equally distributed over all the classes of farms, this increase in size was mostly recorded for the biggest class of holdings (+41 %), i.e. those with more than 100 hectares of UAA. When looking at the animal livestock expressed in livestock units (LSU), it can be observed that in 2010 1.7 million LSU were recorded in Sweden. This represents a decrease of 0.2 million LSU (-11.5 %) when compared to the 2000 data and the second highest value among the Scandinavian countries well behind the figure recorded for Denmark.

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of persons working in agriculture dropped by almost 10 %, from 156 850 to 141 530. In terms of annual work unit (AWU), figures dropped even more: from 71 650 AWU in 2000 to 53 580 AWU in 2010 (-25.2 %). Accordingly, in 2010 the 3 % of the economically active population of Sweden was employed in the agricultural sector, one of the smallest percentages within the EU-27.[1]

According to the Agricultural census 2010, there were on average 0.33 hectares of UAA per inhabitant in Sweden. This figure represented a slight decrease from the value recorded in the previous Agricultural census, when the UAA per inhabitant was 0.35 hectares.

Regional key indicators

When comparing the 2000 data with the 2010 data, changes appear to vary significantly among the different regions of Sweden. The Östra Mellansverige region – which represented almost 26 % of the total UAA (789 860 ha) and 19 % of the agricultural holdings (13 120) of the whole country in 2010 – did not show any major transformations in terms of agricultural activity (see Table 2): despite the fact that the number of farms decreased by 6.4 %, the UAA remained fairly stable (-0.3 %). A similar trend was recorded in Västsverige, the second biggest region of the country in terms of UAA (655 380 ha): while the number of holdings dropped by 14.5 %, the UAA decreased marginally (-2.1 %), so that in 2010 that region still represented 21.4 % of the whole UAA of the country.

Although the LSU dropped by 15.5 % within the timeframe under analysis, Västsverige still recorded the highest value among the Swedish regions: 424 770 LSU in 2010. On the contrary, in term of LSU the Sydersvige lost importance as it recorded the highest fall (-18.7 %), so that in 2010 Småland med öarna recorded the second highest value: 383 080 LSU, -2 % compared to the FSS 2000 data.

More generally, when comparing the 2000 data with the 2010 data in terms of LSU, all the regions displayed a fall in the number of livestock. If the Sydsverige territory showed the highest decrease (18.7%), large falls were also recorded for the regions Västsverige (-15.5 %) and Stockholm (-14.8 %).

Agricultural holdings

Within the EU 27 context, agricultural holdings were found to be rather big in Sweden: in 2010 they recorded an average area per holding of 43 hectares. Furthermore, 17 000 farms (24 % of the total) proved to have 50 hectares or more of UAA; this group of holdings accounted for 73 % of the total UAA of the country (2.2 million of hectares). In terms of the number of holdings, the farms with 5 to 20 hectares were the most common in Sweden (42 %), though they represented only 10 % of the UAA of the country.

Currently, in Sweden more than half of the whole UAA of the country (52 %) belongs to a small number of agricultural holdings (11 %), those with 100 or more hectares of UAA. As showed in Figure 1, farms with 50 to 99 hectares of UAA share another 21 % of the total UAA, while those with 30 to 49 hectares account for the 10 %. On the contrary, farms with less than 10 hectares of UAA – 35 % of the total number of holdings – account for 5 % of the total UAA.

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2010 and 2000

Economic size of the farm

In 2010, the economic size of all the Swedish agricultural holdings was EUR 3 733 million (see Table 3). This value was the highest among the Scandinavian countries and was calculated by adding all the standard output (SO) per hectare of crop and per head of livestock of the farms. Compared to the 2007 FSS (EUR 3 736 million), the 2010 data do not show major changes, though differences were recorded within the diverse economic classes of farms. Indeed, the agricultural holdings with EUR 500 000 of SO or more registered a considerable increase (19 %) in the 2007-2010 timeframe. On the contrary, agricultural holdings with an economic size of EUR 100 000 EUR to 249 999 registered the largest fall (-12.5 %). The smallest class of agricultural holdings – those with less than EUR 1 000 – recorded a marginal decrease (-0.4 %), while those with EUR 2 000 to EUR 3 999 registered the second highest increase (+7.1 %), followed by those with an economic size of EUR 4 000 to EUR 7 999 (+2.2 %).

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for Excel.jpg 2007 and 2010

Agricultural holding by main type of farming

With the exception of farms specialised in general field cropping (31 %), holdings specialised in sheep, goats and other grazing livestock were the most common in Sweden (see Figure 2). According to the Agricultural census 2010, they represented around 24 % of the total number of holdings, while the farms specialised in cattle-rearing and fattening accounted for 16 %. The holdings specialised in cereals, oilseed and protein crops represented 10 % of the total, a share slightly larger than the one of farms dedicated to dairy farming (8 %). Marginal was the percentage of holdings specialised in both field crops and grazing livestock (3 %).

In terms of economic size (see Figure 3), the situation was quite different. Indeed, when using the SO for measuring the main type of farming, the holdings specialised in dairy farming had by far the largest share (35 %) in 2010. Farms involved in general field cropping accounted for 11 % of the total volume of SO, as well as those specialised in cattle-rearing and fattening. Under a double digit figure were the farms specialised in cereals, oilseed and protein crops (9 %), those specialised in pigs (7 %), in sheep, goats and other grazing livestock (5 %) and the farms specialised in poultry (4 %).

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2010

Land use

Utilised agricultural area (UAA) is the total area taken up by arable land, permanent grassland and meadow, permanent crops and kitchen gardens used by the holding, regardless of the type of tenure or of whether it is used as a part of common land.

In Sweden the UAA remained fairly stable, recording only a marginal fall (-0.2 %) after the year 2000, and indicating the value of 3.1 million hectares in 2010. Nonetheless, some remarkable changes were registered within the main categories of UAA within the 2000-2010 timeframe. According to the 2010 Agricultural census data, the share of the area occupied by arable land fell by 3.2 %, the area of permanent grassland and meadow largely widened (+21.1 %), the permanent crops decreased by 17.9 %, while the area of kitchen gardens was not surveyed as considered non significant in Sweden.

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2010 and 2000

Arable land

In Sweden, the total arable area decreased by 3.2 % from 2000 to 2010. This reduction was mainly due to the decrease in the area of cereals and follow land. While the former dropped by 16.5 % – thus accounting for 31.4 % of the UAA in 2010, it accounted for 37.5 % in 2000 – the latter fall by 39.1 %, as in 2008 the requirement that a portion of the area must be fallow land disappeared in Sweden.[2]On the contrary, the most relevant increases were observed for the area of fodder crops (+22.4 %), industrial crops (18.9 %) and pulses (18.9 %).

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2010 and 2000

Permanent crops

In 2010 the area under permanent crops represented a mere 0.1 % of the UAA, corresponding to 2 940 hectares. It had actually decreased by 17.9 % when compared with the previous Agricultural census data. In the 2000-2010 period, this falling tendency concerned both nurseries (-34.8 %) and fruits and berry plantations (-13.8 %).

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2010 and 2000

Permanent grassland

Between 2000 and 2010, the area of permanent grassland grew by 21.1 %, increasing its importance within the UAA: from 12 % to 15 %. In particular, the area of pasture and meadows recorded the biggest share of permanent grassland, accounting for 13.3 % of the total UAA while the area of rough grazing accounted for 1.5 % of the total UAA.

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2010 and 2000


Statistics on livestock use two different units of measurement: the number of heads (number of animals) and the livestock units (LSU). The latter makes the comparison between different types of livestock possible.

In Sweden, according to the 2010 data, there were 0.19 LSU per inhabitant – in 2000 there were 0.22. Indeed, over the period 2000-2010 the number of livestock decreased by 11.5 % while the population increased by 5.4 %. The most remarkable falls were recorded in the two most common species of LSU, namely pigs (-26.1 %) and cattle (-11.9 %). Despite these drops, the composition of the LSU did not change much in Sweden, so that in 2010 cattle accounted for 61 % of the LSU while pigs shared 21 % of the LSU population. Figures increased for equidae (+46.8 %), sheep (+29.1 %) and poultry (+4 %).

In Sweden, the number of agricultural holdings with livestock decreased by 18.7 % over the 2000-2010 period, from 49 640 to 40 360. The largest falls were recorded in Ovre Norrland (-32.3 %) and in the region of Mellersta Norrland (-26.3 %). In terms of the number of LSU, the two regions that recorded the largest decreases were Sydsverige (-18.7 %) and Västsverige (-15.5 %).

With the exception of the smallest farms – those with less than 5 LSU – all the agricultural holdings with less than 100 LSU showed signs of decline, both in terms of the number of holdings and LSU. If the number of holdings is taken into consideration, farms with 50 to 99.9 LSU recorded the highest fall (-43.2 %), whereas in terms of the number of LSU, it was the farms with 20 to 49.9 LSU that displayed the largest decrease (-43.3 %). On the contrary, the biggest farms – those with 500 or more LSU – recorded the largest increases, both in terms of the number of holdings (+53.8 %) and LSU (52.1 %).

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for Excel.jpg 2000 and 2010

Labour force

In 2010, 141 530 persons were working in agricultural occupations, which was a decrease of 9.8 % in comparison with the 2000 data, when 156 850 persons were working in the agriculture sector in Sweden (see Table 6). The decrease appears larger if the annual work unit (AWU) is used: the labour force shifted from 71 650 AWU in 2000 to 53 580 AWU in 2010 (-25.2 %).

When comparing the 2010 data with the 2000 data, in terms of AWU, a fall in the labour force directly employed in the agricultural sector is observed (-23.4 %).

In 2000 93 % of the holders were men. In the last decade this percentage has dropped to 87 %. Within the 2000-2010 timeframe, the number of female sole holders grew by 13 %: from 2 510 to 2 840. On the contrary, figures for male sole holders decreased by 40 %: from 35 380 to 21 340.

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level on holders' age and sex for Excel.jpg 2010 and 2000

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level on type of labour for Excel.jpg 2010 and 2000

Management practices

Type of tenure

In Sweden, according to the 2010 data, the majority of UAA (57 %) was owned by the farmers who actually worked on that land (see Table 7). Over the total UAA, the highest shares of owned land were recorded in “Västsverige” (60.6 %) and in the region of “Sydsverige” (59 %).

As in Sweden there is no land under shared farming – which is the agricultural area utilised in partnership by the landlord and the sharecropper under a written or oral share-farming contract, or it is an area utilised under other modes of tenure – the tenants work on the remaining 43 %. Within this context, the region of “Mellersta Norrland” was the only one where farming by tenant was more common than farming by owner.


In 2010 the irrigable area (the area which could be irrigated using the existent equipment and water normally available on the holding) was 164 230 ha in Sweden, corresponding to 5.3 % of the total UAA. The land that was actually irrigated area was 63 250 ha (only 2 % of the Swedish UAA). The irrigated area increased by 18 % since 2003 (the date were it is first available).

For the first time in 2010 the irrigated area was collected by type of crop, in Sweden the temporary and permanent grass, and the cereals (excluding maize and rice) were the most irrigated crops with 41 % and 31 % respectively of the irrigated area.

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2010 and 2000

In terms of the volume of water, 111 millions of cubic metres of water were used to irrigate the UUA in Sweden in 2010. As kitchen gardens are non-significant, they were not surveyed in Sweden, so that the volume of water does not include this category of land. The estimated value takes into account several factors and was calculated for the first time for 2010 FSS. Clearly, the amount of water used in agriculture strongly depends on the territory and its peculiarities. In Sweden, the region of Mellersta Norrland was characterized by the largest estimation of water used for irrigation in 2010 (1 124 cubic metres per hectare of land irrigated in the previous 12 months) followed by the capital region of Stockholm (1 077 cubic metres per hectare), whereas Småland med oarna is the one which recorded the smallest estimation (853 cubic metres per hectare of land irrigated in the previous 12 month).

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for Excel.jpg 2010

Animal housing

According to the 2010 data, there were 21 590 holdings raising 1 536 660 heads of cattle in Sweden. In the first edition of the SAPM 1 250 710 places for cattle were surveyed in the Swedish farms, covering 81 % of the total heads of cattle. Table 9 lists the number of places for cattle by type of housing. More than half of the places (52.2 %) are in stables were animals are allowed to move freely (loose housing). The most common type of housing is the loose housing with solid dung and liquid manure (571 450 places – 37.2 %).

Other gainful activities

According to the data of the Agricultural census 2010, there were 1 out of 3 holdings with other gainful activities in Sweden, corresponding to a total of 24 050 holdings. The diversification of the activities on the farms generally leads to an extra source of income for the agricultural holdings. In Sweden the percentage of farms with other gainful activities is among the highest in the EU.

In Sweden, the most common other gainful activity was contractual work, which involved 13 800 holdings according to FSS 2010 data. These holdings were mostly concentrated in the regions of Västsverige (3 310) and Ostra Mellansverige (3 100). Contractual work involves work using the equipment of the holding inside or outside the agricultural sector (for example clearing snow, haulage work, landscape maintenance).

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for Excel.jpg 2010

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for Excel.jpg 2000

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.

In Sweden, the number of agricultural holdings practicing organic farming grew from 9 040 farms in 2000 to 15 040 farms in 2003.[3] Afterwards, it dropped sharply in 2005 (2 810) only to grow again in 2007 (2 940) and 2010 (3 990), as registered by the various waves of the FSS over the years. It must be noted that these values do not take into account the farms that were under conversion to organic farming when the data collection took place.

The UAA with organic farming followed a similar trend, it dropped from 344 600 ha in 2003 to 198 770 ha in 2005. In 2007, however, the UAA area on which organic agriculture was practiced – which does not include the area of certified rough grazing – increased reaching 228 730 hectares; it kept growing also in 2010 when it reached 310 060 hectares.

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2007 and 2010

See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2000, 2003 and 2005

Data sources and availability

Methodological notes

The Farm Structure Survey 2010 was carried out as a census in accordance with the EU Regulation 1166/2008. Around 76 800 holdings received an envelope containing information and the survey questionnaire around the 28th of May 2010. In Sweden, the Agricultural census 2010 was carried out combining both national and EU obligations and was implemented in its full form (organization, data collection, data editing, etc.) by the Statistic Division of the Swedish Board of Agriculture.

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 specifications listed in Annex V of Regulation 1166/2008, namely data on tillage methods, soil conservation, landscape features, animal grazing, animal housing, manure application, manure storage and treatment facilities and irrigation.

In Sweden the SAPM was conducted as a sample survey. Accordingly, among the population covered by the Agricultural census, about 8 700 holdings received also the questionnaires on the SAPM and the OGA.

Reference period

The organization of the census started in September 2009, while the main activities started in mid-October 2009 with the construction of the questionnaires. The data collection and processing began in the middle of June 2010 and ended the 10th of October 2010 with a response rate of 97 %.

The reference date was set to the 10th of June 2010. For the characteristics within the farm labour force, production methods and irrigation sectors, the reference period was June 2009-May 2010.

Threshold for agricultural holdings

For the FSS 2010 a combination of the old national thresholds and the new EU thresholds was introduced. This combination was a consequence of the need to prevent discontinuity in national time series. Thus, the target population for Agricultural census 2010 consisted of all agricultural holdings in Sweden which met at least one of the following criteria in June 2010:

  • More than 2.0 hectares of arable land (old national threshold) or 5.0 hectares of UAA (new EU threshold);
  • At least 200 m2 area under glass or 2500 m2 outdoor horticultural cultivation (old national threshold);
  • At least 10 cattle (new EU threshold) or 10 sows (common threshold) or 50 pigs (new EU threshold) or 20 sheep (new EU threshold) or 1000 poultry (common threshold).

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. Common land is a non-existent characteristic in Sweden, therefore it was not included on the list of the characteristics to be surveyed during the agricultural census 2010.

Geo-reference of the holding

For most of the agricultural holdings, the location was extracted from the IACS register – a record developed on the basis of the Council Regulation (EC) no 1782/2003, which contains information from the applications for the single farm payments.

In those cases where this information was not available within the IACS, the location of the holding was extracted from the co-ordinates of the Central Cattle Register (about 500-600 holdings). For another 2000- 3000 holdings which did not apply for subsidies in 2010 (mainly small farmers), the address of the holder was used for obtaining the location.

Economic size

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

Volume of irrigation water

The volume of water used for irrigation was estimated based on a methodology developed especially for this purpose by the Statistics Sweden institute in 2008.

The main source of information for calculating the volume of water used for irrigation were the questions on irrigated area within the different kinds of land in the SAPM. The water volumes were then estimated for each holding with irrigation equipment by using water need coefficients based on crop and geography. The coefficients were developed by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. The water used for irrigating covered areas (kitchen gardens and green houses) was excluded from these calculations.

Other methodological issues

From the EU list of characteristics to be surveyed, a few were not collected during the Agricultural census 2010. In some cases these characteristics were non-existent, while in others they were treated as non-significant. The full list of the characteristics which were not collected in Sweden during the FSS 2010 is available in the National Methodological report 2010.

Comparison with the previous FSS

The comparability with data from surveys before the year 2005, especially for the number of holdings and areas with temporary grass, is somehow limited. This is because of the implementation of the CAP reform from 2005 and the change from area-based subsidies and animal subsidies to single farm payments. Between 2005 and 2007 the data comparability is good. Between 2007 and 2010 the new thresholds for 2010 cause some difficulties in terms of comparability.


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

As agriculture has been modernised and the importance of industry and services within the economy has increased, so 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 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 total number of active people aged 15 to 64, as it is reported by the 4th quarter 2010 of the EU Labour force survey (LFS) Population by sex, age, nationality and labour status (1 000).
  2. As reported in the National Methodological Report, page 36
  3. For the years 2003 and 2000, the data on organic farming refer only to the organic holdings that received agro-environmental payments. In 2000 the farmers were asked whether their organic area filled the EU, not the national, requirements for organic farming. This has influenced the results.