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You are here: Home / Environmental topics / Agriculture

Agriculture

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Farming has a big influence on Europe's landscapes and the quality of its environment. With farmers managing almost half of the EU's land area, the agricultural sector is a major source of pressure on Europe's environment. Over the past five decades, the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) - accounting for around half of the EU budget — has encouraged the sector to become rapidly modernised and agricultural production itself to increase intensification. More

Key facts and messages
Land use trends since 2000 remain the same as in the previous decade but most have slowed down somewhat. Urban areas, infrastructure and forest cover are still increasing at the expense of agricultural land. Farmland is often managed more intensively... more
Current land use trends are likely to continue though possibly at a lower rate, with built-up area increasing at the expense of agricultural land uses and natural areas. Within agriculture, arable land for food and energy crops is likely to... more
Growth of the maritime, agriculture and tourism sectors is expected to continue. An important future objective for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive will be to ensure that this growth is sustainable to achieve and then maintain ‘Good... more
Diffuse pollution from both agriculture and urban areas remains a major pressure on Europe’s freshwater. Cost-effective measures to tackle both sources exist and can be implemented through the river basin management plans of the Water Framework... more
Agro-ecosystems in Europe have a total annual economic value of around EUR 150 billion. more
Some authors estimate 36 % of European subsoils as having high or very high susceptibility to compaction. Other sources report 32 % of soils being highly vulnerable and 18 % moderately affected. (The use of heavy machinery in agriculture can... more
Salinisation stands for the accumulation of basic substances mainly from minerals in water and fertilizers which makes soils unsuitable for plant growth. It affects approximatly 3.8 million ha in Europe. The main driver is the inappropriate... more
In Europe as a whole, 45 % of freshwater abstraction is for cooling in energy production, followed by: agriculture, 22 %; public water supply, 21 %; and industry, 12 %. In southern Europe, agriculture accounts for more than half of total national... more
Despite improvements in some regions, diffuse pollution from agriculture remains a major cause of the poor water quality currently observed in parts of Europe. Agriculture contributes 50-80 % of the total nitrogen load observed in Europe’s... more
Across the European Union, agriculture uses about a quarter of water diverted from the natural environment, though this can be up to 80% in southern Europe. more
Some estimates calculate that approximately a quarter of water abstracted for irrigation in Europe could be saved, just by changing the type of pipe or channel used. more

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