Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada


Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Agricultural operation

A farm, ranch or other agricultural operation producing agricultural products for sale. Also includes: feedlots, greenhouses, mushroom houses and nurseries; farms producing Christmas trees, fur, game, sod, maple syrup or fruit and berries; beekeeping and poultry hatchery operations; operations with alternative livestock (bison, deer, elk, llamas, alpacas, wild boars, etc.) or alternative poultry (ostriches, emus, etc.), when the animal or derived products are intended for sale; backyard gardens if agricultural products are intended for sale; operations involved in boarding horses, riding stables and stables for housing and/or training horses even if no agriculture products are sold. Sales in the past 12 months not required but there must be the intention to sell.

NOTE: For the Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories only, the definition also includes operations involved in the following:

  • herding wild animals (such as caribou and muskox)
  • breeding sled dogs
  • horse outfitting and rigging
  • harvesting indigenous plants and berries.

Agricultural operator

Those persons responsible for the management decisions in operating an agricultural operation. Can be owners, tenants or hired managers of the agricultural operation, including those responsible for management decisions pertinent to particular aspects of the farm – planting, harvesting, raising animals, marketing and sales, and making capital purchases and other financial decisions. Not included are accountants, lawyers, veterinarians, crop advisors, herbicide consultants, etc. who make recommendations affecting the agricultural operation but are not ultimately responsible for management decisions.

The terms agricultural operator and operation are used in the census because they are broader in scope than farmer and farm, and better reflect the range of agricultural business from which the Census of Agriculture collects data. For example, the term farm would not usually be associated with operations such as maple sugar bushes, mushroom houses, ranches, or feedlots.

Agricultural products

Include any of the following products intended for sale:

  • crops (hay, field crops, tree fruits or nuts, berries or grapes, vegetables, seed)
  • livestock (cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, bison, deer, elk, llamas, alpacas, wild boars, goats, rabbits, etc.)
  • poultry (hens, chickens, turkeys, chicks, ducks, geese, game birds, ostriches, emus, etc.), including eggs for supplying hatcheries
  • animal products (milk or cream, eggs, wool, furs, meat, etc.)
  • other agricultural products (Christmas trees, greenhouse or nursery products, mushrooms, sod, honey, bees, maple syrup products, etc.).

NOTE: For the Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories agricultural products also include wild animals (that have been herded, such as caribou and muskox); sled dogs kept for breeding; horses kept for outfitting and rigging; indigenous plants and berries harvested from the wild.

Buffer zones around water bodies

Areas along natural watercourses left with natural vegetation (unfarmed) and designed to prevent erosion, especially in stream channels that become wider and shallower; preserve wildlife habitat and fish stocks; protect water quality for livestock and people. Also referred to as riparian areas, i.e., land bordering a stream or body of water.


A type of summerfallow; the practice of leaving cultivated land free of vegetation for one growing season and using only herbicides to control weeds.

Cold frames

A simple frame (either plastic or glass) used to protect seedlings/plants from frost; a passive solar heating system (that is, it has no source of heat except sunlight) used to generate plant growth and harden off plants for transplanting in the field.

Composted manure

Animal dung or urine, often mixed with straw or other organic matter, that has decomposed into a stable humus.


A process that decomposes organic matter (manure and/or plant matter) into a stable humus used as a natural fertilizer or soil amendment.

Conversion factors

For the Census of Agriculture, they are the following:

  • 1 acre = 0.404 685 59 hectare
  • 1 hectare = 2.471 054 13 acres
  • 1 arpent = 0.845 acre (for respondents in Quebec who reported land areas in arpents)
  • 1 square foot = 0.092 903 04 square metre
  • 1 square metre = 10.763 91 square feet
  • 1 kilogram = 2.204 622 48 pounds
  • 1 pound = 0.453 592 39 kilogram

Corn for silage

Corn in which the entire plant, including the cob, is chopped up and stored in upright silos, bunker silos or plastic bags, and used for animal feed.


An incorporated business registered with a provincial or federal agency as a legal entity separate from the owner. Family corporation: an incorporated business operation where an individual or members of a family owns the majority of the corporation shares. Non-family corporation: an incorporated business operation where a group of unrelated individuals owns the majority of the corporation shares.

Crop rotation

Changing the type of crop grown on the same land from year to year or periodically to control weeds, insects, disease, and replenish soil nutrients or reduce erosion.

Crop share

An agreement between the land owner and the person operating the land (the share cropper), in which the crop is shared rather than cash rent being paid. Cropping expenses may or may not be shared. The person who does not own the land but operates it should report any areas being crop-shared.

Custom work

Work done somewhere other than on the agricultural operator's operation using his/her equipment in return for money or other payment. Includes custom plowing or combining, trucking, drying grain, cleaning seed, spreading fertilizer, spraying crops, cleaning feedlots, etc.

Established alfalfa or hay

Alfalfa or hay that has grown in the same field for more than one season, i.e. has overwintered at least once.

Farm operating expenses

Any cost associated with producing crops or livestock, except the purchase of land, buildings or equipment. Includes the cost of seed, feed, fuel, fertilizers, etc. Does not include depreciation or capital cost allowance.

Field crops

Includes hay, alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures; wheat (spring, durum, winter); oats; barley; mixed grains; corn (grain and silage); rye (fall and spring); canola; soybeans; flaxseed; dry field peas; chick peas; lentils; beans (dry white and other beans); forage seed; potatoes; mustard seed; sunflowers; canary seed; tobacco; ginseng; buckwheat; sugar beets; caraway seed; triticale; and other field crops such as solin, safflower, coriander and other spices, etc.

Fodder crops

Includes alfalfa, barley, clover, corn and sorghum and any other crops in which the whole plant is used to feed cattle, sheep and other ruminants.

Forage seed

Seed from fodder crops grown commercially for seed. Includes timothy, fescue, clover, alfalfa, wheat grass, and turf grass seed.


A chemical used to control, suppress or kill fungi that severely interrupt normal plant growth.

Green manure crops

Young green plants, such as buckwheat and red clover, incorporated into the soil to improve fertility. Usually grown only to improve the soil. Plowing down green crops: when a crop such as winter wheat, fall rye, buckwheat or red clover is planted but "plowed under" before it can be harvested.


A chemical used to control, suppress, or kill plants or severely interrupt their normal growth.


A substance or mixture of substances intended to prevent, destroy, repel or minimize the effect of any insects that may be present.

Natural land for pasture

Areas used for pasture that have not been cultivated and seeded, or drained, irrigated or fertilized. Includes native pasture/hay (indigenous grass suitable as feed for livestock and game); rangeland (land with natural plant cover, principally native grasses or shrubs valuable for forage); grazeable bush (forest land and bushy areas used for grazing, not land cultivated for crops or with dense forest), etc.

Non-workable land

Includes natural pastureland, woodland, wetlands, ponds, bogs, sloughs, etc., barnyards, lanes, etc., and land on which farm buildings are located.

Organic products

Products from farm operations operated according to a set of organic production principles. Certified organic product: an agricultural product that meets organic standards at each production/processing stage and is certified by a recognized certifying agency. Organic certifying agency: a co-operative association or incorporated entity with the authority to give accreditation to organic agricultural operators. Organic certification is based on the Organic Agriculture Standard put out by the Canadian General Standards Board. Organic but not certified: an agricultural commodity produced and processed using organic practices but not officially certified. Operations that opt not to go through the certification process may consider themselves organic but not certified. Transitional: commonly used by certifying agencies to indicate fields in transition to becoming certified organic. It means the operator is actively adopting practices that comply with organic standards. Certification can take up to four years.


Any chemical used for controlling, suppressing or killing insects, weeds or fungi. Includes fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides.

Rotational grazing

A practice allowing forages to recover after each grazing period. Includes alternating two or more pastures at regular intervals or using temporary fences within pastures to prevent overgrazing.


A crop, such as corn and sorghum or other green crops with sufficient moisture, that has been preserved by partial fermentation in a silo, pit, stack, plastic bag or wrap for animal feed. Usually chopped. Often called "hay crop silage" or "haylage" when made from forage crops such as hay or alfalfa. Also referred to as ensilage and baleage.


Involves keeping normally cultivated land free of vegetation throughout one growing season by cultivating (plowing, discing, etc.) and/or applying chemicals to destroy weeds, insects and soil-borne diseases and allow a buildup of soil moisture reserves for the next crop year. Includes chemfallow, tillage, and/or a combination of chemical and tillage weed control on the same land. Part of the crop rotation system in Western Canada. Rarely found in Eastern Canada.

Summerfallow land

Land on which no crops will be grown during the year but on which weeds will be controlled by cultivation or application of chemicals.

Tame or seeded pasture

Grazeable land that has been improved from its natural state by seeding, draining, irrigating, fertilizing or weed control. Does not include areas of land harvested for hay, silage or seed.


Non-workable areas such as ponds, bogs, marshes and sloughs.

Windbreaks or shelterbelts

Rows of natural or planted trees or hedges along field edges that stop prevailing winds from eroding the soil. Used more frequently in Western Canada where farmland is more susceptible to wind action and where trapping snow for moisture is important.

Winter cover crop

A crop, such as red clover, fall rye, etc., seeded in the fall to protect the soil from water and wind erosion during the winter and from heavy rains and run-off in the spring.


Non-workable land such as woodlots, sugarbushes, tree windbreaks, and bush that is not used for grazing.

Workable land

All arable or cleared lands including area in hay, crops, summerfallow, and tame or seeded pasture land.