Fertilizer Shipments Survey (FSS)

Detailed information for second quarter of the fertilizer year 2019/2020





Record number:


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

Data release - February 17, 2020


The Fertilizer Shipments Survey is conducted by Statistics Canada on behalf of Fertilizer Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

This 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 major retail distributors.

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

Statistical activity

The survey is administered as part of the Integrated Business Statistics Program (IBSP). The IBSP has been designed to integrate approximately 200 separate business surveys into a single master survey program. The IBSP aims at collecting industry and product detail at the provincial level while minimizing overlap between different survey questionnaires. The redesigned business survey questionnaires have a consistent look, structure and content.

The integrated approach makes reporting easier for firms operating in different industries because they can provide similar information for each branch operation. This way they avoid having to respond to questionnaires that differ for each industry in terms of format, wording and even concepts. The combined results produce more coherent and accurate statistics on the economy.

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 originally designed in 2007 by a project team made up of Statistics Canada and Fertilizer Canada employees, based on the questionnaire previously used by Fertilizer Canada. Respondents were consulted in one-on-one interviews in order to clarify how records were kept, to confirm appropriate reporting instructions in order to avoid double-counting of fertilizer products with respect to use of chemicals in down-stream products, and to better understand flows of shipments (among producers, wholesale distributors and major retail distributors). The questionnaires have remained stable over the years.

As of October 2019, the Excel-based email questionnaires were discontinued and transitioned to an electronic format that allows respondents to complete and submit their questionnaire online. This electronic questionnaire was designed by Statistics Canada as part of the Integrated Business Statistics Program, which incorporates questionnaires with a consistent look, structure and content. The Agriculture Division, the Collection, Planning and Research Division, the Operations and Integration Division and the Enterprise Statistics Division of Statistics Canada conducted both in-house and respondent testing for accuracy, flow and consistency. Although very few changes were made to the content, a new question was added to the questionnaire based on recommendations and consultation with Fertilizer Canada and industry experts. This new question asks for 'Net Urea production' and complements the existing question on 'Gross Urea production'.


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 the first three quarters (July to September, October to December and January to March), smaller units are excluded, resulting in a smaller sample size for these quarters. The exclusion of units in quarters one to three is determined by those whose annual shipments are less than a predetermined cutoff. These units excluded in quarters one to three 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.

Respondents receive an email with a link to the electronic questionnaire. Telephone, facsimile or email follow-up procedures ensure a high rate of return during data collection.

Data sources for the estimates of fertilizer shipments by nutrient content are derived from collected data on fertilizer shipments by product type.

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

Error detection

With the electronic questionnaire (EQ), it is possible to implement micro edit procedures at the time of survey completion. Computer programmed edit checks in the EQ report possible data errors, which can then be corrected immediately by the respondent or the interviewer.

During data collection and processing, edits are used to detect errors or inconsistencies in the microdata records. These edits include linear equality edits (e.g. Value1 + Value2 = Total Value) and consistency edits (e.g. shipments of fertilizer products were declared, but no values were given). Comparisons are also done with historical responses for further error detection and identification of potential outliers. Reported data are also compared to previous reports to ensure reported commodities are relatively consistent. When errors are found, they can be corrected using the failed edit follow up process during collection or via imputation.

Data are then compared on a year-to-year basis and previous quarters' trends for the year are examined. All top contributors are also reviewed. Analysts consider the relationship between the shipments, inventories and production datasets which also serves to detect reporting errors.


When total non-response and partial non-response occurs, automated imputation is used to fill in the missing information and modify the incorrect information.

Historical information (previous responses from the establishment) is the first method of imputation used. If no historical information exists then replacement using data from a similar unit in the sample (known as donor imputation) is used. If this is unsuccessful then an average value is imputed.

When reported data are considered incorrect during the error detection stages, subject matter experts may make additional manual changes to the data based on their knowledge and expertise.

Imputed data may need to be further adjusted through steps such as proration in order to respect the edits.


Since this is a census, estimates are produced by summing all individual records provided by respondents for each category. Estimates of fertilizer shipments by nutrient content are derived from collected data on fertilizer shipments by product type.

Quality evaluation

The data quality is maintained by rigorous standard editing techniques and survey results are evaluated through comparisons to previous estimates and other sources when available. Survey results are further 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. During or after this data confrontation process, tabulations may be subsequently revised when necessary.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that 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. Data are suppressed where confidential to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

For some 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 or quarters 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 include 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.

As this is a small census style survey with rigorous follow-up as required, data quality is deemed to be very high. In the case of a late report, follow-up processes result in a high response rate. If the data cannot be obtained, estimates are made, and the data are revised the following quarter as necessary. To prevent and minimize coverage error, research is done on the Statistics Canada Business Register to include any additional Canadian producers, wholesale distributors and major retail distributors of fertilizer products. Every effort is made to minimize these errors and the data confrontation process is used to validate data before publication.


  • The Integrated Business Statistics Program
    Statistics Canada launched the Integrated Business Statistics Program to provide a more efficient model for producing economic statistics. The main objective was to enhance the economic statistics program so that it remains as robust and flexible as possible while reducing the burden on business respondents. The program changes ensure that Statistics Canada will continue to produce a consistent and coherent set of economic statistics. As well, data users and researchers can more easily combine economic data with information from other sources to undertake their analyses.
  • An Overview of the Integrated Business Statistics Program Sampling Methodology
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