Expert advice

Crop diversification

Agricultural production is an indispensable component of the landscape and one of the basic branches of the economy. The total area of land used for farming in Poland is approx. 15 million hectares – almost half of the area of our country. Observed specialisation and development of farming do not remain without influence on the nature surrounding us. 

On large farms responsible for the production of goods, noticeable is ever so frequently specialisation in the crops, entailing frequently simplified crop rotation, and, in extreme cases, monocultural farming. Such specialisation may be of course substantiated by many aspects, such as profit from production, maximisation of the plant and location production potential, utilisation of the most modern production resources dedicated to specific crops. As is the case most frequently, such activities are not without influence on the farming landscape. In case of simplified crop rotation and monocultures, mentioned most often is the degradation of microbiological life, the exhaustion of nutrients, the reduction of organic matter content or increased pressure from agriphages.

In order to prevent negative changes to the farming landscape, from the year 2015. the additional direct farming support programme was amended by new criteria concerning farming practices advantageous for the climate and the environment, described frequently as so-called 'greening'. Farmers who in their farms utilise crop diversification, maintain permanent green spaces and proecological areas, receive payments due to growth of green plants.

Diversification of crops entails the obligatory introduction into the crop rotation, depending on the area of the farm, several types of crops that should be in the field between May 15th and July 15th (this period, however, can be changed by decision of the Polish Minister of Agriculture, the changes should be monitored on-line and in industry press, e. g. in the year 2017. this time was shifted to between June 1st and July 31st). the introduction of at least two crops in crop rotation applies to farms over 10 ha of farmland; additionally, depending on the area, two groups are differentiated between:

  • 10-30 ha of farmland – required are at least two types of crops on farmland, including one main crop that should not take up more than 7% of the farmland.
  • Above 30 ha of farmland – required are at least two types of crops on farmland; including one main crop that should not take up more than 75% of farmland, and two main crops together may not take up more tan 95% of farmland.

All exceptions from the above rule were presented in art. 44 of the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU) no. 1307/2013 of December 17th, 2013.

Pursuant to regulation 1307/2013, a crop is considered:
- a type in the botanical classification of crops,
- a species from the brassicaceae, Solanaceae and cucurbits, fallowing land,
- grass or other green plants (used as animal feed).

From the point of view of the agricultural producer, important is also the fact that the winter and summer type of the same species are considered in this case to be separate crops.