Categories: AD ARC

Over recent years, NISRA has started to create a series of themed datasets with our academic partners in Queens University Belfast and Ulster University as part of ADR NI. This has been an exciting development and, working closely with Northern Ireland government departments, ADR NI is creating themed datasets including education, income, and employment data.

The farming sector is extremely important to the Northern Ireland economy, but it is currently facing many challenges, including Brexit and Covid-19. So, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) was keen to collaborate with ADR NI to create a themed dataset that can provide more detailed information and insights on farmers and farm households in Northern Ireland.

What is the Census Agricultural Research Study?

The Census Agricultural Research Study (CARS) project is the NI strand of the UK-wide Administrative Data| Agricultural Research Collection (AD|ARC) project. This four-country data resource seeks to create research-ready datasets on farmers and farming households.

The first step of the NI strand of the project has linked two main datasets – the 2011 Census and the DAERA Farm Database to establish the feasibility of the dataset linking in NI. The DAERA farm database consists of data from the 2010 Farm Census, the EU Farm Structure Survey and DAERA farm payments. This has been linked to the 2011 Census, providing information on the characteristics of farms, farmers and farm households.

Figure 1: Proposed linkage diagram for CARS 2011

By linking the 2011 Census and the DAERA farm database CARS provides a novel dataset in Northern Ireland providing key information for AD|ARC research themes namely: Socio-demographics, Resilience, Environment and Place. This first linkage phase also provides a baseline of farming in Northern Ireland in advance of the 2021 Census being made available.

Progress so far

To date, we have carried out the first stage of the project and have completed a feasibility study on linkages between the two datasets. The Trusted Third Party team which is based in Census Office in NISRA carried out a detailed assessment of the linkage.

Overall, with 92.2% of farms matched to a Census household (prior to donor imputation), Stage 1 of the matching (finding household and owner simultaneously) was deemed successful. Therefore, NISRA will progress onto the development of CARS.

What next?

We will now work with the data providers, ADRC NI researchers and colleagues in the wider AD|ARC partnership to define the variables and deliver the final build for CARS.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact the project team at