Environmental Performance of Agriculture in OECD Countries Since 1990

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In OECD countries, agriculture uses on average over 40% of land and water resources, and thus has significant affect on the environment. This report provides the latest and most comprehensive data and analysis on the environmental performance of agriculture in OECD countries since 1990. It covers key environmental themes including soil, water, air and biodiversity and looks at recent policy developments in all 30 countries.

Over recent years the environmental performance of agriculture has improved in many countries, largely due to consumer pressure and changing public opinion. Many OECD countries are now tracking the environmental performance of agriculture, which is informing policy makers and society on the trends in agri-environmental conditions, and can provide a valuable aid to policy analysis. The indicators in this report provide crucial information to monitor and analyse the wide range of policy measures used in agriculture today, and how they are affecting the environment. 

Did You Know?  In OECD countries, agriculture uses on average 40% of land and water resources.

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OECD Country Trends of Environmental Conditions related to Agriculture since 1990: Sweden

Primary agriculture’s contribution to the economy is small and declining, accounting for 0.5% of GDP and less than 2% of employment in 2004 [1] (Figure 3.26.1). Agricultural production rose slightly by 3% over the period 1990-92 to 2002-04, due to an increase in livestock production (but livestock numbers declined), as overall crop production remained unchanged. While the area farmed declined by 6% between 1990-92 and 2002-04, the intensity of farm input use diminished with reductions in the use of: nitrogen (–11%) and phosphorus (–33%) fertilisers; pesticides (–3%); and on-farm direct energy consumption (–15%) (Figure 3.26.2). Since accession to the EU in 1995 farming has undergone significant structural change [2]. The key developments between 1996 and 2005 include a reduction in the number of farms (–17%), an increase in farm size, and greater specialisation, mainly in dairying, pigs and cereals [1, 2]. Most farms are family owned and farming and forestry are often combined activities. The share of agriculture in the total land area, of about 7%, is among the lowest across the OECD area, because Sweden’s climate and topography limit the growing season in the north. As agriculture is mainly rain-fed its use of water resources is small, accounting for only 4% of total water use in 2000 [3], which also reflects the very limited area irrigated, less than 2% of the total agricultural land area (2002-04), although in dry years the irrigated area can be more than double this share.

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