During the “Science – Business – Agriculture” conference held in 2012 by “PUŁAWY” Competence Center, an organization set up by “PUŁAWY” Company, delegates and attendants discussed the current issues concerning modern farming. They stressed that farming ought to be based on solid foundations, not only with regard to acreage or equipment, but mostly on expert know-how.
Care for the soil
Common Agricultural Policy of the EU requires a reduction of the acreage of farmland on the continent. Consequently, we must not forget the rudimentary rules of fertilizers application. Professor Witold Grzebisz from Poznań University of Life Sciences reminded about the basic principles which might improve the quality of soil, making it largely independent from external factors: “First and foremost, soil pH needs to be regulated, regardless of the size and kind of the farm (…) Secondly, a farm ought not to sell hay or other organic leftovers after the harvest, but plow them into the soil” – recommended Professor Grzebisz.
In his opinion, reuse of such “waste” materials is an example of natural recycling. Organic material fertilizes the humus and improves the soil structure, making it more moist. In this way, plants are more likely to survive periods of drought and they make better use of nitrogen. Another important issue is maintaining the correct proportions of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the fertilizers used. Professor Grzebisz sums it up: “Those key principles ought to mitigate the year-to-year fluctuations in yield quantity”.
Professor Janusz Igras from the Fertilizers Research Institute in Puławy believes that “Promotion of balanced fertilizing systems is crucial, especially that we have varied conditions for agricultural cultivation”. Appropriate fertilizing practice is facilitated by professional counseling, which provides advice on the methods suitable for the particular kind of farmland. “Rarely do the farmers commission chemical analysis which indicate soil pH” – remarked Professor Igras. The most frequent mistakes in nitrogen fertilizers application are: unique application of excessive quantities of the fertilizer and using substances which are not appropriate with regard to the speed of nutrients absorption by the plants.
Controversies surrounding re-cultivation of farmland
Environment-friendly recommendations of the EU suggest that some areas of land should stop being cultivated for agricultural purposes and turned into green areas. Such idea met with scarce support from the Polish farmers attending the conference. Wiesław Gryn, who owns a farm covering 300 hectares in Podkarpacie region, put it bluntly: “European Union is less and less of an agricultural producer, therefore I think that such policy is mistaken. We ought to strive to increase production”. He remarked that in the West of Europe conversion of farmland to green areas is carried out in order to eliminate space for which there is little practical use.
In Mr Gryn’s opinion, however, in Poland such practice may prove harmful. He draws attention to the risk of abuses, such as eliminating the best plots of land solely so as to fulfill EU requirements (7% of farmland should be converted to green areas). In such cases even professional fertilizing counseling or good use of organic waste shall not compensate for lower efficiency of the farm.