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Instytut Ekonomiki Rolnictwa i Gospodarki Żywnosciowej - Państwowy Instytut Badawczy
Submission date: 2019-07-01
Final review date: 2019-07-09
Acceptance date: 2019-08-28
Publication date: 2019-09-25
Zagadnienia Ekonomiki Rolnej / Problems of Agricultural Economics 2019;360(3):54-88
The issue of ecosystem services is a relatively new concept in economic theory. This is the concept considered problematic, due to the difficulty of defining the benefits provided to people by ecosystems and their measurement and valuation. Some of these services are strongly associated with soil. Soil is one of the basic environmental resources necessary to conduct agricultural production. It fulfills many of non-production functions and provides services that are essential to human existence. Based on the crucial classification developed by the United Nations, we attribute providing the following ecosystem services to soil: basic/supporting, provisioning, regulating and cultural. Variety of services which are produced by soil causes the need to pay more attention to its quality, which is to a large extent derived from agricultural practices. The assessment of agriculture in the context of the farms’ organization allows to determine whether the present profile of agricultural production is conducive to maintaining environmental services or whether it destabilizes environmental processes. What seems especially important from this perspective is highlighting the changes in agriculture over the years, in the context of their impact on the condition of the natural environment. The aim of the paper is to indicate changes taking place in agriculture in Poland relevant to soil ecosystem services. The study was based on public data of 2005, 2007, 2016 from the Statistics Poland (GUS), gathered in the Farms Structure Survey. The research covered all private farms in Poland from 1 ha of agricultural land in good agricultural and environmental conditions. The results have shown the dynamic development of agriculture in Poland after accession to the EU, although many of the observed changes can threaten soil ecosystem services. The progressive crop diversification, including the cultivation of winter species, nitrogen fixing crops and catch crops were assessed positively. Problematic issues were, on the one hand, the process of farms’ withdrawal from livestock production, on the other hand, increasing livestock production concentration.
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