Agricultural sector less labour-intensive

In 2007, there were nearly 77 thousand agricultural holdings in the Netherlands. The number had declined by one third relative to 1995. The total area used for agriculture remained more or less the same, resulting in larger, less labour-intensive farms.

The average size of agricultural holdings has increased from 17 ha in 1995 to 25 ha in 2007. Cattle, pig and chicken farms have also grown proportionally.

Number of agricultural holdings and cultivates area


In 2007, the amount of labour required on agricultural holdings had declined by 20 percent relative to 1995. The labour intensity rate dropped most dramatically in horticulture. Over the period 1995-2007, the area tilled per unit of labour had increased by 56 percent. 
The situation is different in fruit farming, since fruit farming tends to be more labour-intensive. Over the period 1995–2007, the total agricultural area was reduced by 20 percent and the amount of labour by 7 percent. This means that the area tilled per labour unit was reduced by 14 percent.

Labour intensity in agriculture and horticulture over the period 1995–2007


Douwe Kuurstra and Vera Wijnolst