Fertilizer Shipments Survey (FSS)

Detailed information for third quarter of the fertilizer year 2018/2019





Record number:


The survey produces statistics on shipments of fertilizer in Canada by manufacturers, wholesale distributors and major retailers.

Data release - May 14, 2019


This survey is conducted by Agriculture Division on behalf of Fertilizer Canada (FC) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

The survey produces statistics on shipments of fertilizer in Canada by manufacturers, wholesale distributors and major retail distributors. This survey is a continuation of a survey that was formerly conducted by Fertilizer Canada, and covers all major Canadian manufacturers, wholesale distributors and retail distributors.

The information is essential to AAFC to support Canada's international reporting obligations of the inventory of greenhouse gas emissions.

Reference period: Fertilizer year quarter - July to September; October to December; January to March; and April to June. (A fertilizer year runs from July 1 to June 30.)

Collection period: October; January; April; July


  • Agriculture and food (formerly Agriculture)
  • Environment
  • Land use and environmental practices

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population includes all Canadian producers, wholesale distributors and major retail distributors of fertilizer products.

Instrument design

The Fertilizer Shipments Survey questionnaires were designed by a project team made up of Statistics Canada and Fertilizer Canada employees, based on the questionnaire used by FC in the past. Questionnaire design specialists were consulted in Statistics Canada.

To develop this survey, respondents were consulted in September 2007 in one-on-one in-depth interviews that asked specific questions on the best way to collect information on fertilizer shipments, to obtain accurate and reliable data. A further email study was conducted in October 2007 to clarify reporting questions, mainly to determine: how records are kept; the best way to avoid double-counting of fertilizer products with respect to use of chemicals in down-stream products; and reporting arrangements for flows of shipments (among producers, wholesale distributors and retail distributors).

The questionnaires were then revised based on questionnaire design specialist recommendations and consultation with FC employees and industry experts.


This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design.

This cross-sectional survey is conducted on a quarterly basis. The fourth quarter (April to June) is a census of the approximately 40 units in the target population. For quarters July to September, October to December and January to March, units with shipments of less than 20,000 metric tonnes per year are excluded from the sample, resulting in a sample size of between 25 and 30 units. The excluded units report their annual data in quarter four.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: The collection window is three weeks (however some questionnaires may be received later).

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

The data are collected through a process providing respondents with the option of telephone or electronic filing methods. Follow-up procedures are applied when a questionnaire has not been received after a pre-specified period of time: respondents are phoned or sent an email to remind them to send their questionnaire.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Error detection

The data are examined for inconsistencies and errors using automated edits coupled with an analytical review. Reported data are compared to previous reports to ensure that the commodities reported are the same. Any changes are reviewed for reasonableness.


Imputation is not generally required; where necessary, prior company data will be used to estimate for current data with adjustments for current trends.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Quality evaluation

The data quality is maintained by rigorous standard editing techniques. Survey results are validated by a statistical group of industry experts each quarter, with follow-up of issues and revisions as required. Company-level reports are investigated and follow-up with respondents is done as required; tabulations are revised when necessary.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Data are suppressed where confidential. For much of the data, permission to release data has been obtained from participating companies to minimize suppressions.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

There is no seasonal adjustment. Data from previous years may be revised based on updated information.

Data accuracy

While considerable effort is made to ensure high standards throughout all stages of collection and processing, the resulting estimates are inevitably subject to a certain degree of non-sampling error. Examples of non-sampling error are coverage error, data response error, non-response error and processing error. The major sources of non-sampling error for this survey are considered to be coverage error and non-response error.

Coverage error can result from incomplete listing and inadequate coverage of the population. Coverage is considered to be very good.

Data response error may be due to questionnaire design, the characteristics of a question, inability or unwillingness of the respondent to provide correct information, misinterpretation of the questions or definitional problems. These errors are controlled through careful questionnaire design and the use of simple concepts and consistency checks.

Non-response error is related to respondents that may refuse to answer, are unable to respond or are too late in reporting. Attempts are made to obtain as high a response rate as possible.

Processing error may occur at various stages of processing such as data entry, editing and tabulation. Measures have been taken to minimize these errors. A few trained staff work on this survey and review the estimates.

There is minimal non-response for this survey. Every effort is made to minimize reporting and processing errors and the data confrontation process is used to validate data before publication. Where necessary, any specific concerns are footnoted in the applicable tables.

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