Agriculture and Horticulture Slovakia
Agriculture and horticulture in numbers
The share of GDP generated in agriculture was 2.5% in 2007. The importance of agriculture in economy has decreased over the last decades (10).
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).
Already at current climatic conditions the potential evapotranspiration is higher than total precipitation in the vegetation period. The modeled conditions of climate change will significantly increase the water deficit in the vegetation period (1).The variability of yields from non-irrigated soil of lowlands will probably increase (10). Simulations with barley crops that were not stressed by nutrients and water show 24% yield increase in 2075. However, when irrigation is limited the fertilizing effect of CO2 is much less (10).
An extension of the vegetation period is forecast up to 43 days in the southern part of Slovakia in 2075 and up to 84 days in northern parts. Climate change scenarios suggest that the increase of production potential may be 8% in 2010, 19% in 2030 and 47% in 2075 (1).
Agricultural production regions are getting more sensitive to drought; particularly in regions where maize is produced gradual aridification has been found and the occurrence of drought can be more frequent (10). Another risk is associated with the shift of growing season to the months with high heat stress frequency that can restrain the transfer of substances from plants to grain (10).
Climate change (especially more frequent and intensive precipitation) may create better conditions for the occurrence and spread of diseases and pests (10). Frost during growing season presumably will occur more often and consequently the damage by frost and cold will have to be taken into account in the selection (refining) of new species (10).
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% (6).
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).
Adaptation measures in agriculture include (1):
- changes in crop growing technologies
- changes in agro-climatic division and structure of grown crops and varieties. Varieties are needed that are able to overcome periods of moisture deficiency during the vegetation period. Utilization of solar radiation can be improved by the selection of varieties with longer growing season (10).
- changes in cultivation programs
- regulation of water regime
- new approaches of nutrition
- regulation of water and energy regimes of vegetation by mulching
- a limited application of herbicides
According to the Work Bank, the following adaptation measures hold the greatest promise for Eastern European countries, independent of climate change scenarios (11):
- 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 Slovakia.
- Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic (2005)
- 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)
- Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic and the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute (2009)
- World Bank Group (2009)