Agriculture and Horticulture Czech Republic
Agriculture and horticulture in numbers
Agriculture accounts for only a small part of gross domestic production (GDP) in Europe, and it is considered that the overall vulnerability of the European economy to changes that affect agriculture is low (2). However, agriculture is much more important in terms of area occupied (farmland and forest land cover approximately 90 % of the EU's land surface), and rural population and income (3).
Plant production predominates over animal production in the Czech Republic. Production per area of agricultural land is, however, lower than in neighbouring countries. The contribution of agriculture to the GDP in the Czech Republic is about average for the EU. Meat production in the Czech Republic is below the EU average. Milk production is also decreasing. In 2007 plant production in the Czech Republic constituted 57.6% of the total production of agricultural products. Plant production has come to predominate over animal production since 2001. 53.9% of the total land area of the Czech Republic was used for agriculture in 2007 (1).The prevailing
annual crops include winter wheat, spring barley and winter rape in most of the Czech Republic (11).
Benefits - Czech Republic
Initially, owing to warmer temperatures, the decrease in precipitation and the longer growing seasons, there may be an improvement in crop productivity (cereals, oilseeds and sugar beet) in countries such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania (10).
Vulnerabilities - Czech Republic
Projected changes in climatic conditions for the Czech Republic and the northern parts of Austria show that by 2020, the combination of increased air temperature and changes in the amount and distribution of precipitation will lead to a prolonged growing season and significant shifts in the agroclimatic zones in Central Europe (11). In particular, the areas that are currently most productive will be reduced and replaced by warmer but drier conditions. In the same time the higher elevations will most likely experience improvement in their agroclimatic conditions. This positive effect might be short-lived, as by 2050, even these areas might experience much drier conditions than observed currently. Both the rate and the scale of the shift are amazing as by 2020 (assuming upper range of the climate change projections) only 20–38% of agriculture land in the evaluated region will remain in the same agroclimatic zone and by 2050 it might be less than 2% (11).
The deterioration of soil properties through unsustainable agricultural practices and changing climate could lead to a fall in productivity beyond the point of no return with devastating effects on ecosystem services in large areas. The combination of drought hazard and a high proportion of fast-drying soils makes the southeastern part of the Czech Republic and an area to the west of Prague and around Pilsen the most vulnerable with respect to climate change (12). In addition, there is the risk of sheet and ephemeral gully erosion and the risk of local floods originating primarily from agricultural land. These vulnerable areas are presently considered to be the most fertile regions in the country. Profound increases in the overall drought hazard are projected, already for the period 2021-2040, leading to an expansion of these vulnerable areas (12). Many farmers partially mitigate drought impacts through crop selection, irrigation, and modified tillage practices, but in many cases, they struggle economically, as the economic returns, especially in dry years, are extremely poor (13).
Vulnerabilities Europe - Climate change not main driver
Socio-economic factors and technological developments
Climate change is only one driver among many that will shape agriculture and rural areas in future decades. Socio-economic factors and technological developments will need to be considered alongside agro-climatic changes to determine future trends in the sector (3).
From research it was concluded that socio-economic assumptions have a much greater effect on the scenario results of future changes in agricultural production and land use then the climate scenarios (4).
The European population is expected to decline by about 8% over the period from 2000 to 2030 (5).
Scenarios on future changes in agriculture largely depend on assumptions about technological development for future agricultural land use in Europe (4). It has been estimated that changes in the productivity of food crops in Europe over the period 1961–1990 were strongest related to technology development and that effects of climate change were relatively small. For the period till 2080 an increase in crop productivity for Europe has been estimated between 25% and 163%, of which between 20% and 143% is due to technological development and 5-20% is due to climate change and CO2 fertilisation. The contribution of climate change just by itself is approximately a minor 1% (7).
Care should be taken, however, in drawing firm conclusions from the apparent lack of sensitivity of agricultural land use to climate change. At the regional scale there are winners and losers (in terms of yield changes), but these tend to cancel each other out when aggregated to the whole of Europe (4).
Future changes in land use
If technology continues to progress at current rates then the area of agricultural land would need to decline substantially. Such declines will not occur if there is a correspondingly large increase in the demand for agricultural goods, or if political decisions are taken either to reduce crop productivity through policies that encourage extensification or to accept widespread overproduction (4).
Cropland and grassland areas (for the production of food and fibre) may decline by as much as 50% of current areas for some scenarios. Such declines in production areas would result in large parts of Europe becoming surplus to the requirement of food and fibre production (4). Over the shorter term (up to 2030) changes in agricultural land area may be small (7).
Although it is difficult to anticipate how this land would be used in the future, it seems that continued urban expansion, recreational areas (such as for horse riding) and forest land use would all be likely to take up at least some of the surplus. Furthermore, whilst the substitution of food production by energy production was considered in these scenarios, surplus land would provide further opportunities for the cultivation of bioenergy crops (4).
Europe is a major producer of biodiesel, accounting for 90% of the total production worldwide (8). In the Biofuels Progress Report (9), it is estimated that in 2020, the total area of arable land required for biofuel production will be between 7.6 million and 18.3 million hectares, equivalent to approximately 8% and 19% respectively of total arable land in 2005.
The agricultural area of Europe has already diminished by about 13% in the 40 years since 1960 (4).
Several measures have already been implemented. Land-use planning substantially reduces the impacts of extreme meteorological situations, prevents erosion of the soil and helps to prevent floods. Implemented agro-environmental measures are: especially organic farming, grassing over of cropland, creation of grass strips on sloped land and cultivation of intermediate crops (1).
Additional measures are planned. New and existing varieties need to be selected that are suitable for the vegetative conditions. Although it is not anticipated that the expected range of temperature and precipitation changes would lead to fundamental changes in the species composition of current field crops, it can be expected that current cultivars will be shifted to higher altitudes. At lower altitudes, it will be necessary to obtain varieties with greater resistance to dryness, as climate change will entail, amongst other things, greater variability in temperature in the winter and early spring and thus a greater risk of winter kill of crops (1).
Irrigation systems need to be created, renewed and maintained. The problem of irrigation systems does not lie in the cost aspect, but mainly in the availability of irrigation water (1).
Water erosion can be caused not only by the frequency of the occurrence of erosion by dangerous rainfall, but also by seasonal changes in the variation of extreme precipitation. Anti-erosion measures will include grassing over of cropland, cultivation of intermediate crops and the establishment of grass strips on sloped land. The effect of wind erosion will probably increase substantially, especially in the warm and dry areas of southern Moravia. Proposals for anti-erosion measures with long lifetime and high costs (terraces, windbreaks, anti-erosion reservoirs, etc.) must take into account the impacts of potential climate change. The use of anti-erosion measures must correspond to the spatial and functional arrangement of the landscape with a positive effect on its ecological stability and must thus be part of all landscape measures (1).
According to the Work Bank, the following adaptation measures hold the greatest promise for Eastern European countries, independent of climate change scenarios (10):
- Technology and management: Conservation tillage for maintaining moisture levels; reducing fossil fuel use from field operations, and reducing CO2 emissions from the soil; use of organic matter to protect field surfaces and help preserve moisture; diversification of crops to reduce vulnerability; adoption of drought‐, flood‐, heat‐, and pest resistant cultivars; modern planting and crop‐rotation practices; use of physical barriers to protect plants and soils from erosion and storm damage; integrated pest management (IPM), in conjunction with similarly knowledge‐based weed control strategies; capacity for knowledge based farming; improved grass and legume varieties for livestock; modern fire management techniques for forests.
- Institutional change: Support for institutions offers countries win‐win opportunities for reducing vulnerability to climate risk and promoting development. Key institutions include: hydromet centers, advisory services, irrigation directorates, agricultural research services, veterinary institutions, producer associations, water‐user associations, agro processing facilities, and financial institutions.
- Policy: Non‐distorting pricing for water and commodities; financial incentives to adopt technological innovations; access to modern inputs; reformed farm subsidies; risk insurance; tax incentives for private investments; modern land markets; and social safety nets.
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for the Czech Republic.
- Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic (2009)
- EEA (2006), in: EEA, JRC and WHO (2008)
- EEA, JRC and WHO (2008)
- Rounsevell et al. (2005)
- UN (2004), in: Alcamo et al. (2007)
- Ewert et al. (2005), in: Alcamo et al. (2007)
- Van Meijl et al. (2006), in: Alcamo et al. (2007)
- JNCC (2007), in: Anderson (ed.) (2007)
- European Commission (2006), in: Anderson (ed.) (2007)
- World Bank Group (2009)
- Trnka et al. (2011)
- Trnka et al. (2016)
- Vopravil et al. (2012), in: Trnka et al. (2016)