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agriculture and environment

Abstracts - Challenges for Agriculture: Facts and Figures
"Agriculture, Environment, Rural Development"

A dynamic European agricultural and agri-foodstuffs sector

Progress in gross added value and trade of the agricultural sectors was maintained following the reform of the CAP in 1992, at the same time allowing a policy which is on the whole more environmentally friendly to be put into place.

Keywords: gross added value, trade, agri-foodstuffs, CAP

Changes in agricultural employment

The number of people employed in agriculture continues to fall. The family unit remains the basic structure for holdings. However, new types of employment (resulting from diversification) and new types of organisation (part-time work) are beginning to emerge.

Keywords: employment, CAP, structure of holdings, family employment, part-time

Crop trends and environmental impacts

Between 1975 and 1990, the ploughing up of meadowland favoured the production of maize for fodder and sale crops. Crop production was intensified (increased inputs, simplification of crop rotation systems). This high pressure agriculture has had a profound impact on the environment (notably diffuse pollution). The reform of the CAP in 1992 has reduced production by introducing set-aside and has put in place agri-environmental measures.

Keywords: crop production, ploughing up of meadows, sale crops, intensification, CAP, set-aside

Specialised holdings and more intensive practices

Between 1975 and 1995, agricultural production became more concentrated, the average size of holdings grew and farms became more specialised, favouring monoculture. Crop production was intensified, using more inputs (seeds, fertilisers, pesticides) and substituting capital for labour (machinery, irrigation, land improvement measures). This modern type of more intensive agriculture has had an overall impact on the environment in the course of the last 15 years.

Keywords: crop production, concentration of production, specialisation, intensification, inputs, capital

Concentration of livestock production

The way in which livestock is managed has changed greatly in the European Community in the course of the last 20 years: the total number of animals per region is often lower, but production has increased, and the herds are much bigger and on fewer farms. The principal characteristic of this type of holding is specialisation, and thus, a concentration of pressure on the environment.

Keywords: LSU, livestock unit, concentration

Non-food and energy crops, a long tradition and a potential for future development

Several agricultural products are not always grown for human or animal food. Textiles, paper, starch and other products are traditionally processed from agricultural raw materials, and new uses are developing. Some agricultural products are used to produce energy, generally being burnt to produce heat, and this is an area of great potential for the future.

Keywords: renewable energie, agricultural energy crops

Organic farming

Organic farming remains of minor importance in the European Community. The Common Agricultural Policy encourages conversion to organic production. These measures are an integral part of the agri-environmental policy of the European Community. Some differences remain between Member States, but the expansion is sometimes very marked.

Keywords: organic farming, agri-environment measures

The impact of agri-environmental measures

After seven years of implementation of the agri-environment regulation, the programs cover some 20% of the farmland of the EU, at a cost of 4% of the CAP agriculture budget (guarantee section). Data shows that measures lead to quantified reductions in use of inputs, conservation of valuable farmed habitats, and changes in use of land for environmental purposes. Identified positive impacts accrue to biodiversity, landscape, water and soil resources and to a lesser extent air quality. The complexity of maintaining the European farmed landscape and its associated biodiversity are shown by the immense range of agri-environment actions developed by Member States. On account of the challenges presented to program management, Member Sates have established a cycle of evaluation, review and modification.

Keywords: agri-environment, biodiversity, landscape, rural environment, conservation

Natura 2000 and agriculture

The European network of NATURA 2000 sites will cover more than 10% of the Community's territory. This directive aims at protecting nature through better management of specific sites. Many of these sites are managed by agriculture.

Keywords: nature, territory, land management, agri-environmental measures

The forestry measures of the Common Agricultural Policy

Measures intended to stimulate activity in favour of the environment were part of the 1992 CAP reforms. One of these measures encourages the reforestation of agricultural land, and between 1993 and 1997 this led to the reforesting of a little more than a half million hectares.

Keywords: forest area, reforestation, Regulation (CEE) 2080/92, CAP

Water and Agriculture

The intensification of agricultural production during the last decades has greatly increased the pressure on water resources. Overuse and pollution of these resources are combined in varying degrees in many agricultural regions across the European Union - problems relating to water quantity predominate in the South of Europe, while the North is more confronted with pollution.

Keywords: water management, irrigation, quantitative aspects, qualitative aspects

Nitrogen in agriculture

Although nitrogen is essential for plant growth, an excess of nitrogen can be a menace to the environment, especially water. Mineral fertilisers and animal manure are the principal sources of nitrogen on agricultural land.

Keywords: nitrogen, fertilizer, manure

Pesticides in the European Union

In terms of active ingredients the overall amount of pesticides used in agriculture in the European Union has decreased since the early 1990s, although variations in sales figures are very much dependent on weather conditions and changes in crops grown. Many initiatives on pesticides have been developed by the EU in recent years, in particular under the agri-environmental measures of the CAP reform, which specifically encourage the adoption of environment-friendly agricultural practices.

Keywords: sales of pesticide, fungicide, herbicide, active ingredients, insecticide

Agriculture and Climate Change

The role of agriculture in climate change, both as an emitter of greenhouse gases, principally methane and nitrous oxide, and as potential sinks for CO2, are examined. For each gas data on emissions and sinks are presented and evaluated wherever possible.

Keywords: greenhouse gas, methane, carbon dioxyde, nitrous oxyde

Agriculture and Acidification

A Community policy has recently been established to combat acidification. Agriculture contributes to acidification by the production of ammonia, but also suffers as a result of acidification from industrial sources which reduces the fertility of the soil.

Keywords: acidification, NH3

From soil to landscape: A Fundamental Part of the EU's Heritage

The territorial dimension of European agriculture is a fundamental factor to be taken into account when measuring the effects of policies. If the soil favours production, it also suffers from bad farming practices. Lastly, the varying land cover and use (whether agricultural or not) have helped to fashion the European landscape, in particular without the combined effect of technical progress and agricultural policies.

Keywords: soil, land cover/use, landscape compartimental approach

Soil at the Interface between agriculture and the environment

Soil, the basis for all agricultural activities, is placed at the interface between agriculture and the environment. Serious degradation can be seen across the whole of Europe, threatening the productivity of the different types of soil. Sustainable agriculture ensures the conservation of the major land functions of both agricultural production and the protection of the environment.

Keywords: soil, agriculture, agri-environment

Agricultural Landscape: More than half of the Territory of Europe is Maintained by Farmers

The countryside can in part be analysed by the study of land and cover types. This article presents the results of analyses done in this sense by EUROSTAT at a EU level, by means of a map. The work on the landscape, which is in progress in different EU member states, is also shown. They will lead to more elaborate landscape indicators.

Keywords: landscape, land cover/use, indicator, maping representation, CORINE land cover

The Rural Character of the European Union

A large part of the European land area can be considered as rural even if this notion is interpreted very differently from one region to another across the European Union: low population, marked tendency towards population drift, low income level, preponderance of agricultural activities, etc. The putting into place of a real rural development policy remains one of the major issues for AGENDA 2000.

Keywords: population, income, employment, territory, environment AGENDA 2000


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