Canola, experimental regional estimates using new data sources and methods

Latest release

Experimental statistics on canola for 2019-20, highlighting the use of alternative data sources and methods for producing agriculture statistics

Reference period
2019-20 financial year
Next release Unknown
First release

Key statistics

  • 2,136 thousand tonnes of canola were produced in Australia in 2019-20 with a farm gate value of $1,207 million dollars.
  • Esperance Region (WA), Eyre Peninsula (SA) and Kojonup (WA) were Australia’s largest canola producing Statistical Area 2 regions.

Using new data sources and methods to produce more timely and detailed agricultural statistics

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is partnering with industry and other stakeholders to co-design methods to produce agricultural statistics using new data sources.

Traditionally, agriculture area and production statistics are produced by the ABS through an annual agricultural survey or the five yearly agricultural census which collects information directly from farm businesses.

Agriculture value of production information is produced through a variety of methods, including annual survey collections.

These experimental canola estimates demonstrate that non-survey data sources can produce accurate statistics at a level of regional detail normally only available every five years from the Agricultural Census. These experimental canola estimates are an extension of previous experimental work undertaken for producing sugarcane statistics.

The ABS plan to refine this experimental approach to producing canola statistics, with the aim of adopting this methodology to produce official canola statistics. This will reduce the reporting burden for farmers, and industry, through the eventual removal of canola questions from the suite of ABS agricultural surveys. 

Work is underway to extend similar approaches to use administrative data for other agricultural statistics.

If you are interested in being part of the conversation about modernising the production of official agricultural statistics, please get in touch with us via email:

Canola, experimental statistics

The 2019-20 experimental estimates of canola production, local value, area grown and business numbers are produced by combining administrative data from the Grains Levy Payer Register with satellite derived crop mapping from Digital Agriculture Services.

To assist users in understanding the accuracy of the experimental estimates, comparison has been made with the official canola statistics for 2019-20, produced from the ABS agricultural survey and Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced collection. This comparison includes the 95% confidence interval for the official ABS agricultural commodity estimates. For more information about sampling errors see  Agricultural Commodities, Australia - Methodology section and Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced – Methodology section.

Comparison between the experimental canola estimates and the official ABS agricultural commodity estimates is made at the lowest common regional output level - Statistical Area Level 4 (SA4).

Canola produced

In 2019-20:

  • 2,136 thousand tonnes of canola were produced in Australia
  • Western Australia was the largest canola producing state with 48% of Australian production (1,022 thousand tonnes)

The experimental canola production estimates are within the 95% confidence interval of the ABS agricultural commodity estimates for the four major canola producing states.

  1. Australian Statistical Geography Standard 2016

For the 10 largest producing Statistical Area 4 (SA4) regions, the experimental estimates for canola production are all within the 95% confidence interval of the ABS agricultural commodity estimates, except for 'South Australia - Outback'.

  1. Australian Statistical Geography Standard 2016

The Esperance Region is the largest canola producing Statistical Area 2 (SA2) region in Western Australia and Australia, highlighting the importance of canola to the Esperance region. The regional detail provided by data at the SA2 level is possible because levy and crop mapping data provide coverage of all businesses producing and selling canola across Australia. Currently this level of geographic detail is only provided every 5 years when data is collected through the Agricultural Census.

Annual data at this level will support better biosecurity risk assessment as well as an improved understanding of the impact of the changing climate and natural disasters on canola.

Area of canola grown

In 2019-20, 2,141 thousand hectares of canola were grown in Australia. Western Australia had the largest area of land growing canola with 1.1 million hectares.

The experimental estimates for area of canola grown are within the 95% confidence interval of the ABS agricultural commodity estimates in Victoria and Western Australia, the two largest canola producing states.

  1. Australian Statistical Geography Standard 2016

For canola area grown, the experimental estimates fall outside the 95% confidence interval of the ABS agricultural commodity estimates in 5 of the 10 largest canola growing SA4s.

Further  investigation is required to better understand the reason the experimental estimates and official area statistics do not show greater alignment at the SA4 level. The crop identification techniques used in converting satellite imagery to crop area estimates are continuously improving however there is regional variation in the accuracy of these estimates. Large broadacre crop businesses often extend across multiple regions and understanding the exact nature of this from the business addresses available in both ABS survey data and the Levy Payer Register data, is difficult.

Value of canola produced

The farm gate value (local value) of canola from the 2019-20 harvest in Australia was $1,207 million.

  1. Australian Statistical Geography Standard 2016

For the 10 SA4s with the highest value of canola, the experimental estimates are all within the 95% confidence interval of the ABS agricultural commodity estimates, except for 'South Australia - Outback'. The value estimates reflect both variations in unit price for canola and the volume of production. The variability in the data presented here is largely attributed to the small differences in production.

  1. Australian Statistical Geography Standard 2016

The graph of canola value by SA2 in Australia highlights the additional regional detail that the experimental statistics provide by using the Levy Payer Register data together with the crop mapping. Annual value statistics at this level of regional detail provide insights into the economic contribution of different agricultural commodities to regional communities around Australia.

Number of canola businesses

There were 6,180 businesses producing canola in Australia for the 2019-20 harvest.

  1. For data privacy reasons, statistics for numbers of businesses have been rounded

  2. Australian Statistical Geography Standard 2016

The experimental estimates for number of businesses producing canola are within the 95% confidence interval of the ABS agricultural commodity estimates for 7 of the 10 SA4s with the highest number of canola businesses.

The experimental estimates have a higher total number of canola growing businesses than the ABS agricultural commodity estimates. This is likely to be due to the different ways that Australian Business Numbers (ABNs), on which the numbers are based, are captured in the two data collections. Agricultural businesses can have complex structures with multiple ABNs and the same businesses can use different ABNs in ABS surveys and in the Levy Payer Register data. In addition ABS agriculture commodity estimates only include businesses with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more per year. The levy data includes all businesses that sold canola which captures the full extent of canola producing businesses.

How these experimental estimates have been created

The 2019-20 experimental estimates for canola have been produced using administrative data sourced from the Grains Levy Payer Register combined with satellite crop mapping of canola from Digital Agriculture Services (DAS).

Data sources

The canola levy data is collected on behalf of Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). The Grains Levy Payers Register contains details of the quantity of canola sold or used in commercial production, the value of the sale and business address information for all canola producers.

Digital Agriculture Services use a combination of field data and satellite imagery to create crop maps identifying areas where canola was grown across Australia. These maps were used to create estimates of canola grown within each SA2.


Data from the Levy Payers Register was aggregated to produce an initial set of regional SA2 estimates for production, value, and business numbers.

The crop mapping data was used to identify levy payer records with business addresses outside of canola growing areas. It was also used to identify levy records with production amounts too large to be within a single SA2. This was done by identifying SA2 yields greater than 4 tonnes per hectare.

A reallocation process was used to spread the production, value, and business number data from these levy payer records across multiple SA2s. This spreading process was based on the relative amounts of canola crop area in each SA2. This added to the initial aggregated data to produce a final set of estimates. See the Methodology section for more detail on this process.

This method was developed in collaboration with the broadacre crop industry through advice from the Grains Statistics Working Group which is led by the Grains Research and Development Corporation. The Australian Oilseed Federation and Digital Agriculture Services also provided advice on the process and use of the crop mapping data.

Interactive maps

The latest interactive map will be available within 24 hours of the data publication release.

How to use

  • If the map does not load, please try again later.
  • Use the tabs across the top to view different subsets of data. On mobile devices please select the menu icon, or swipe between listed subsets at the bottom of the screen.
  • You can search for locations using names, addresses, suburbs, or postcodes.
  • Click on a region of interest to view data about that region

Geographic Areas

The boundaries use in the map are:

Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2), ASGS Edition 2 boundaries according to the Australian Statistical Geography Standard, (ASGS) Edition 2.

Map data

The data displayed in the interactive map can be accessed from the Data Downloads section below.

Data download

Canola, experimental regional estimates using new data sources and methods, 2019-20 financial year

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