2035 Arable Farming Strategy

Prospects for Productive and Diverse Crop Farming

In the face of climate change, the BMEL’s Arable Farming Strategy is intended to outline ways and means to make arable farming more sustainable – i.e. more environmentally sound, economically viable and socially acceptable – which is also necessary to achieve greater societal acceptance. Environmental balance and economic incentives should go hand in hand.

 

By far the majority of basic foodstuffs and animal feed are derived from arable farming. They represent the basis of our diet. Efficiency has improved greatly over the past few decades, ensuring a high-quality of produce.

However, the high level of productivity in arable farming also entails challenges in terms of environmental protection, nature conservation, economic factors and social acceptance. Furthermore, existing conflicts of interests need to be resolved.

On 25 August 2021, Julia Klöckner, the Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture presented  the 2035 Arable Farming Strategy (in German). By putting forward its Arable Farming Strategy, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) wants to present a framework for viable arable farming in Germany, outline prospects and support the agricultural sector in the implementation process. The strategy focuses on the medium and long term and defines objectives and measures as well as parameters for making arable farming future-proof.

Development of the Arable Farming Strategy

The fundamentals of the arable farming strategy adopted in the coalition agreement for the 19th legislative term were elaborated by a working group consisting of scientists from institutions within the BMEL’s remit and from several German Länder. A discussion paper on the 2035 Arable Farming Strategy was then developed based on this groundwork This paper was presented to the public by Federal Minister Julia Klöckner on 19 December 2019. It serves as a basis for an extensive public discussion process concerning the further development of arable farming in Germany.

Involvement in the discussion process in the summer of 2020 was open to all citizens, and the level of participation was high. In addition, a questionnaire was sent to the Länder, agricultural and environmental associations and selected scientific advisory boards to solicit their opinions.

The statements received from citizens were summarised in a report that is available for download here (in German). The opinions provided by the Länder, associations and scientific advisory boards are also available for download (in German). The results of the discussion process were incorporated into the revision of the Arable Farming Strategy, which has now been published

 

Structure of the Arable Farming Strategy

The Arable Farming Strategy comprises six guidelines and twelve fields of activity. The guidelines describe the basic conditions for viable arable farming.

Guidelines

  • Ensuring the supply of high-quality food, animal feed and biogenic raw materials
  • Securing the income of farmers
  • Promoting nature protection and the conservation of resources
  • Maintaining biodiversity in agricultural landscapes
  • Stepping up climate action and adapting arable farming methods to climate change
  • Increasing social acceptance of arable farming

Fields of activity

The Strategy describes problematic issues and trade-offs in each field of activity. Objectives and measures were developed to address these issues. The following 12-point plan lays down the fundamental aims of the fields of activity:

  • Further enhancing soil conservation and improving soil fertility
  • Increasing crop diversity and expanding crop rotation
  • Increasing efficiency in fertilising and reducing nutrient excess
  • Strengthening integrated plant protection and reducing undesired environmental impacts
  • Developing resilient and site-adapted species and varieties
  • Using digitalisation to optimally exploit arable farming potential
  • Enhancing biodiversity in agricultural landscapes
  • Developing climate-smart crop plans
  • Stepping up climate action in arable farming and making use of synergies
  • Improving training and advice
  • Promoting appreciation of the farmer’s profession
  • Accompanying the implementation of the Arable Farming Strategy at political and financial level

Implementation of the Arable Farming Strategy/measures

Arable farming is a complex system that frequently does not lend itself to simple solutions. This is why the Arable Farming Strategy describes a variety of individual measures designed to address the challenges involved. The Arable Farming Strategy additionally serves as a basis for announcements regarding funding for the implementation of individual measures.

What happens next?

The implementation of the measures of the Arable Farming Strategy has already begun. The investment programme for agriculture funds advanced machinery and equipment for the precise application of farm manure, mineral fertiliser and plant protection products. Structural facilities for expanding the storage capacity of farm manure and compact (mobile) plants for manure separation are also eligible for funding. Automatic tyre pressure control systems can be subsidised from the Federal Programme aimed at improving energy efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions in agriculture and horticulture.

In addition, research and development projects as well as model and demonstration projects are being funded in the fields of plant breeding, plant health, plant protection and nutrient management in order to implement the Arable Farming Strategy. Specific objectives include developing diagnostic methods in plant protection that allow crop pests to be recognised and monitored in the field and investigating important resistances in breeding research in order to support breeders in developing new, disease-resistant crop varieties.

Several model and demonstration projects are also being funded or planned. They will support and monitor agricultural holdings during the implementation of new findings, for example in the fields of nutrient management and integrated crop management. The corresponding announcements will be published on the BLE website.

Furthermore, work is being carried out on establishing a nationwide network of arable farms; this will demonstrate modern and sustainable arable farming and make it come alive for the public. These “demonstration plant-production farms” are planned to be the point of contact for the interested public. The network will also support communication among practitioners.

It is planned to continuously assess the implementation of the measures described in the Strategy, to evaluate the Strategy every five years and, if necessary, to adapt it. A permanent monitoring committee will also be set up to support the assessment of the Arable Farming Strategy. 

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