Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate this page
ABS Home>Topics @ a Glance > Agriculture
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
Topics @ a Glance - Agriculture
Using Agriculture Statistics



Australian Business Number (ABN)
If they apply, companies registered under the Corporations Act and business entities carrying on a business in Australia are entitled to an Australian Business Number (ABN). The ABN is an 11 digit number. It is a single identifier for use in business dealings with government agencies.

Australian Business Register (ABR)
When an organisation applies for, and receives, an Australian Business Number the business details from their application become part of the Australian Business Register (ABR). The ABR is the central collection, storage and verification system for basic business identity information for all entities with an ABN.


Leasing the grazing rights to a paddock. Usually a contract when one person takes livestock belonging to another person to graze on his land for payment.

Agricultural establishments

The establishment is the smallest accounting unit of business within a state or territory, controlling its productive activities and maintaining a specified range of detailed data, enabling the value added to be calculated. In the agriculture sector, an establishment covers all operations at a physical location, but may consist of a group of locations provided they are within the same shire. The majority of establishments operate at one location only. In most cases an establishment is the same as a farm.

Annual grasses

Those species that regenerate from seed each year and must set seed each year to regenerate (e.g. barley grass, subterranean clover).

Area of holding

Includes all occupied and maintained land owned, leased or rented, land worked by sharefarmers and all road permits. Excludes land leased or rented to others.

Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC)

A standard classification developed for use in Australia and New Zealand for the production and analysis of industry statistics. The standard is also aligned with international standards in industry classification. Industry value estimates, industry financial estimates and trade export estimates are all presented in terms of ANZSIC. ANZSIC Subdivision 01, Agriculture, includes classes such as fruit industries (classes 0131-0139), beef cattle farming (class 0142), and pigs (class 0192). The 2006 edition of the ANZSIC replaces the 1993 edition and as a result, bridging is required when making comparisons between these editions.

Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC)

A classification system, designed and maintained by the ABS, which divides Australia into geographical areas for the purpose of collecting and disseminating statistics. The ASGC is a hierarchical system consisting of seven interrelated classification structures. These classification structures are made up of spatial units which, for the Main Structure, include Statistical Local Area (SLA), Statistical Subdivision (SSD), Statistical Division (SD) and State and Territory (S/T).


Male breeding pig.

Breeding ewes

Female sheep that are of breeding age (i.e from approx. 12 months old).

Broadacre crops

Crops that are typically grown on a broad scale. They include cereal crops, oil seeds, sugar, and cotton. Examples of broadacre crops include wheat, barley, oats, sorghum, soybeans and canola.


A steer, over the age of 24 months, being fattened for the market.


A young animal of either sex from birth till weaning. The ABS definition states a calf is less than 12 months of age.

Cereal crops

Members of the grass family which are annuals and grown for the consumption of their grain. They include barley, oats, wheat, maize, rice and triticale.

Cows in dry

A cow that has completed its lactation and is not producing milk.

Cows in milk

A cow that is producing milk for sale.

Crop stubble

Dead plant material left standing or remaining after a crop has been cut or harvested.

Crown land

Land that is the property of the Commonwealth, a state or territory and controlled by statute (an act passed by Parliament or written law).

Crutched wool

Wool that has been shorn from the tail (breech) area and hind legs of sheep for the control of fly-strike.


Animals that have been selected for removal (sale) or slaughter from the herd because they
are no longer economically productive or valuable as breeding stock.


Various tillage operations such as ploughing, scarifying or harrowing carried out on the land prior to and during the growing of crops.

Dead wool

Wool gathered or plucked from sheep which have been dead for some time.


Refers to the stage in livestock production, usually in the Pork and Poultry Industries, when the animals are grown on a contract basis for others and then disposed of (not sold) when finished.

District council

Usually a rural area administered by local governments, in South Australia only.


Employees are all persons working for a business who receive remuneration in any part of the reference period, excluding working proprietors and partners.

Employees at 30 June

Employees are all persons working for a business who receive remuneration, usually via wages or salaries (excluding working proprietors and partners) at the 30 June.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO)

An estimation of agricultural activity undertaken by an agricultural establishment. Three year average weighted prices are applied to livestock turn-off and livestock numbers on the farm and to area and production data for crops. The resultant aggregation of these commodity values is the EVAO, but it is not an indicator of the value of receipts of individual farms. It is an indicator of the extent of agricultural activity.

Executive employees

Executive employees are usually senior employees working for a business generally in management positions, excluding working proprietors and partners, who receive remuneration in the form of a salary.

Fallow land

Land that has been cultivated and left to rest without a crop for an extended period of time in order to accumulate soil moisture.

Fed off
A crop that has been grazed either before harvesting (where the crop is then allowed to mature) or where the crop is grown specifically for grazing or is abandoned to grazing due to poor quality.

Fertiliser - manufactured

A manufactured chemical substance containing the chemical elements that improve growth and productiveness of plants. Fertilisers enhance the natural fertility of the soil or replace the chemical elements taken from the soil by previous crops.


A pig, that has been specifically grown for fattening to prime condition, just prior to selling and slaughter.

Fresh market (fruit and vegetables)

Fruit and vegetables that are sold to fresh fruit and vegetable wholesale markets.


A young non-mated female pig that has not farrowed (given birth to) its first litter of pigs.

Grazing land

Any area of pasture, range land or other grassland available for stock to graze.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

The total market value of goods and services produced in Australia after deducting the cost of goods and services used up (intermediate consumption) in the process of production, but before deducting allowances for the consumption of fixed capital (depreciation).

Gross Unit Value

Unit value placed on commodities at the point of sale (ie market place).

Gross value of commodities produced:
See Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced (VACP)


Pigs that have been weaned and are being fattened for sale.


Goods and Services Tax


The collection of a commodity once it has reached optimal maturity.

Female cows, from six months old until they have had their first calf, usually up to two and a half years of age.


A young sheep from 9 - 12 months old until it has cut its first two teeth.


A holding is defined as land located within one shire used for the production of agricultural and livestock produce. Each holding usually corresponds to an individual farm business and can consist of a number of separate parcels of land, providing they are all in the one shire. In some cases, where a land holder has land in more than one shire and cannot provide data separately relating to each shire and prior agreement has been reached between the land holder and the ABS, the definition of a holding can be extended to include land in more than one shire. The area of a holding includes all occupied and maintained land owned, leased or rented, land worked by sharefarmers and all road permits. Excludes land leased or rented to others.


Incorporated company

An incorporated company is one which has a corporate or separate legal entity status under legislation, as opposed to non-incorporated entities, such as partnerships, trusts, individuals.

Intended for service

Beef breed bulls and bull calves intended for breeding.

Introduced pastures

A pasture based on non-native species (e.g. phalaris, perennial ryegrass, white clover) that have been sown either in a prepared seedbed, direct drilled or aerially sown. Commonly called 'improved' pasture.

Irrigation scheduling

Refers to the processes, mechanisms and tools used in order to decide the optimum time to irrigate and/or how much water to apply.


The period of time usually in autumn or spring when ewes give birth to (drop) lambs.

Legal Name

The name of the entity (eg the partnership, company or individual name) that appears on all official documents or legal papers relating to the business. This may be different from the trading name.


High protein fodder plants of which lucerne, clover, peas and vetches are the most common. They are mainly used as feed for livestock, food for human consumption and as a soil-improving crop because of their ability to enrich the soil with nitrogen.

Local unit value

Unit value placed on commodities at the point of production (ie farm gate).


Localities are small rural areas or suburbs existing within a shire with populations of between around 200 and 1,000 people.

Maiden ewes

Ewes that have never been mated.

Meat breed rams

Rams whose offspring are bred for their meat.

Native pasture

Grasses and legumes indigenous to the area.

Naturalised pasture

Grasses that have been introduced from overseas and are capable of distributing and regenerating themselves without human assistance (e.g.barley grass, couch grass, vulpia, bromes).

Non breeding ewes

Ewes that are set aside for wool production rather than for breeding.

No cultivation

A method of land preparation which does not use cultivation apart from the actual planting of the crop. Usually involves the use of herbicides in place of cultivation to remove weeds, etc. prior to sowing. Sometimes referred to as no tillage or zero tillage.

Land incapable of supporting a crop.

Non-salaried directors

Directors not in the receipt of remuneration, which includes directors not receiving a fee for sitting on the Board and attending the occasional board meeting. They are not employees.

One or two cultivations only

A method of land preparation with a limited total number of cultivations (discing, ploughing, scarifying, harrowing, etc.) occurring immediately prior to sowing. Sometimes referred to as minimum tillage.

Original estimates/original series

Original estimates are estimates before any seasonal or trend adjustments have been made.


A grazing area covered with grasses and/or legumes.

Perennial grasses

A term describing grasses which live for more than one year (e.g. microlaena, phalaris, lucerne).

Permanent employees

Permanent employees are persons who are employed and entitled to paid holidays or leave pay.

Permanent full time employees

Permanent full time employees are those who normally work the agreed or award hours for a full-time employee in their occupation. If agreed or award hours do not apply, employees should be regarded as full-time if they ordinarily work 35 hours or more a week.

Permanent part time employees

Permanent part time employees are those employees who are not full time as defined above.

Reference period

The period of time for which the data are collected and/or compiled, eg calendar year, financial year, quarter month, specific day of month, etc. The reference period may vary by data items in a collection or refer to a particular point in time to which the data refers.

For the most recent Agricultural Census and Agricultural Surveys, the reference period applies to the
financial year 1 July to 30 June. For example, the details collected in relation to crops refer to the crops harvested during the 1 July to 30 June period. The details collected in relation to livestock activity also relate to the 12 month period 1 July to 30 June however, closing stock numbers relate to a point in time i.e 30 June.

Salt scalds

An area where salt crystals accumulate on the soil surface, suppressing plant growth, often leading to surface soil erosion which can expose saline subsoils.

Salt tolerant crops

Crops that can withstand high concentrations of salt (e.g. barley).

Sample error

Estimates in ABS sample surveys, such as the Agricultural Survey, are based on information obtained from a sample drawn from the total farm population in the scope of the collections and are subject to sampling variability; that is, they may differ from the figures that would have been produced if all farms or farm businesses had been included in the Agricultural Survey. One measure of the likely difference is given by the
standard error (SE), which indicates the extent to which an estimate might have varied by chance because only a sample was taken. There are about two chances in three that a sample estimate will differ by less than one SE from the figure that would have been obtained if all farms or farm businesses had been included, and about nineteen chances in twenty that the difference will be less than two SEs.

In agriculture publications sampling variability of the estimates is measured by the
relative standard error (RSE) which is obtained by expressing the SE as a percentage of the estimate to which it refers. Most published estimates have RSEs less than 5%. For some states with limited production of certain commodities, RSEs may be greater than 10% and these are annotated. If an estimate is identified by a ^ (eg ^5) the estimate has a relative standard error of 10% to less than 25% and should be used with caution. A single asterisk (e.g. *2) indicates the RSE lies between 25% and 50% and again should be used with caution. If an estimate is identified by a double asterisk (e.g. **) the RSE is above 50% and considered too unreliable for general use. Separate indication of the RSEs of all estimates is available on request - for more information please contact our client servicing team.

Seasonal adjustment

Seasonal adjustment is a means of removing the estimated effects of normal seasonal variation from the series so that the effects of other influences can be more clearly recognised. In the seasonal adjustment of the livestock slaughtering
estimates, account has been taken of both normal seasonal factors and 'trading-day' effects where significant, arising from the varying length of each quarter and the varying numbers of Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays etc. in the quarter. Adjustments are also made for the effects of change in the date of Easter holidays, again, where significant. Seasonal adjustment does not remove from the series the effect of irregular influences (e.g. abnormal weather, industrial disputes). As happens with all seasonally adjusted series, the seasonal factors are reviewed annually to take account of each additional year's data.


An arrangement between parties where one party owns the land and a second party provides materials, equipment or livestock, and the proceeds of the arrangement is shared by both parties. In ABS Agricultural collections, for the arrangement to be considered 'sharefarming', the owner of the land must also provide more than just the land itself eg labour, materials, equipment or livestock.


A rural area administered by local government and often referred to as a local council or shire council. Can be made up of smaller areas consisting of counties, parishes and boroughs. A name given to a Local Government Area in NSW, VIC, QLD and WA.

Short wool rams

Rams that are used to breed to ewes to produce lambs more for their meat than their wool.


A green fodder preserved by partial fermentation in air-tight stacks, pits, bags or silos which is fed to cattle and sheep.


Cutting pasture or grass with a machine (slasher) to remove excess material or weeds from a paddock.

Soil conditioners

Substances which assist in stabilising soil acidity and correcting physical soil problems. Examples are lime, dolomite and gypsum.

Sole proprietor

Also referred to as a sole trader - covers all the business activities of the sole owner or proprietor, irrespective of how many different businesses are carried on by that single individual (excluding household/private activities).


A female pig after bearing offspring.

Sown pasture

Pasture which has been introduced by sowing grasses and legumes to the area, including native and introduced species.

Statistical Local Area (SLA)

An SLA is the base spatial unit (defined in the Australian Standard Geographic Classification (ASGC)) used to collect and disseminate statistics other than those collected from the Population Censuses. In aggregate, SLAs cover the whole of Australia without gaps or overlays. In Agricultural Census years, the SLA is the smallest regional level for which agricultural data is available.


A castrated male bovine (cattle species) animal, over one year of age.


Usually refers to non-fattened animals, or animals in lean condition prior to fattening to prime condition.


Piglets that are still suckling (feeding off) their mothers.


The application of fertiliser to a crop or pasture after it has emerged from the ground.

Trend estimates

A trend estimate is obtained by reducing the irregular component from the seasonally adjusted series.
Trend estimates are generally derived by applying a seven term Henderson moving average to the seasonally adjusted series. The seven term Henderson (like all Henderson averages) is symmetric, but as the end of a time series is approached, asymmetric forms of the average are applied. Unlike the weights of the standard seven term Henderson moving average, the weights employed here have been tailored to suit the particular characteristics of individual series. While the asymmetric weights enable the trend to be calculated for recent quarters, it does result in revisions to the estimates for the most recent three quarters as additional observations become available. Revisions of trend estimates will also occur with revisions to the original data and re-estimation of seasonal factors.

Sensitivity analysis indicates the potential magnitude and direction of revisions created to the last three estimates. It aims to show how a specified movement in the seasonally adjusted data in the next period will affect the trend path of the time series. By showing how sensitive the trend estimates are to the addition of new data, the analysis provides information which can be used in the assessment of the trend's stability.


Money or other assets, or both, administered by a third party on behalf of the owners. The money is held in a trust fund and may be invested by the trustee.

Value of agricultural commodities produced

The value placed on recorded production at the wholesale prices realised in the market place.


A young animal that has been removed/weaned from its mother.

Weighting Up

The process where each unit in a sample population has its response inflated to represent the response from all similar units in the population.
The 'weight' conferred refers to the number of units in the population represented by each unit in the sample (eg in a 5% sample, the weight is 20).


A male sheep that has been castrated as a lamb.

Working proprietors and partners

Working proprietors and partners operate their own non-incorporated economic enterprise (not a company).
Working proprietors (sole proprietors which are usually sole traders) and working partners are the owners of their enterprises and as such, they are not considered to be employees of that enterprise.

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.