Plant Production

PLANT PRODUCTION

NATURAL CONDITIONS

From a geographic point of view, the total area of the Slovak Republic is 49 036 km2. As re-gards altitude, 40 % of the territory is up to 300 meters above sea level, 45 % is between 300 – 800 meters above sea level, 14 % is at a height of 800-1500 meters, and 1 % is at an altitude over 1500 meters. Climatic conditions of Slovakia which vary considerably are also connected with this fact. For example, a long-term norm of the warmest region of Slovakia (the area of Hurbanovo in southern Slovakia) is 9.9oC with 549 mm of annual precipitation, and of the coldest region (where plants are still grown – upper Orava in the north of the country) is 5.3oC and 781 mm of rain and snow. Thus the most fertile areas (maize and rape production areas) have suffi cient energy input, but suffer from insuffi cient rainfall, mainly in the summer months; however, this may be eliminated to a certain extent by irrigation systems developed on approximately 300 thousand ha of arable land. The lowest lying area of Slovakia – Východoslovenská nížina (East Slovakian Low-land) is limited with respect to production by a high energy input complicated by water regime conditions. Higher-lying areas with a relatively suffi cient amount of precipitation suffer from insuffi cient energy input, and are connected with less fertile type of soil. The region of the Eastern Carpathian zone (north-west of Slovakia) can be considered such an area in Slovakia.
From the agricultural point of view the maize area represents 51% of the total amount of arable land, the rape-growing area represents 23 %, potato land 15 %, potato-oat areas 4 % and mountain landscape represents 7 % of the total area of arable land. The most common soil type are saturated Eutric Cambisols– 18.9 %, then Rendzis Leptosol – 12.8 %, Fluvisols – 12.6 %, Brown Earths – 10.8 %, Dystric Cambisols – 9.7 %, Albie Luvisols and Planosols – 9.7 % , Molic Fluvisols – 9.7 % and Chernozems- 8.7 %. In the year 2004 0.37 ha of agricultural land and 0.25 ha of arable land correspondent to each citizen of the SR.
 

  Maize Rape Potato Potato-oat Mountain
Area (%) 51 23 15 4 7

MAJOR CROPS

The variety of natural conditions or of conditions for plant production in Slovakia is connected with the instability of hectare harvesting and with considerable differences in harvests between years and between regions. In the case of crops which are grown in all areas (e.g. cereals) diffe-rences in harvests between regions are higher than 80%. Year-to-year differences are smaller; the highest difference for last 20 years was 48 %.

CEREALS AND OIL CROPS

With respect to extent, the decisive crop in Slovakia is winter wheat, grown on an area of approximately 350 - 660 thousand ha, representing 26 % of arable land. The second crop is spring barley, with an average area of 200 thousand ha (14 % of arable land). The third important crop, with area of about 140 thousand ha (10.2 %), is maize. Thus cereals in total, including maize, represent the group of crops most cultivated in Slovakia, with an average area of 780 ha, which is 58 % of arable land. Due to the enormous increase in growing areas of oilseed rape in the 1990s, oil crops became the second important group of market crops, with an area of 200 thousand ha (14%). Of that, the previously mentioned oilseed rape is grown on an area of 100 thousand ha (7 % of arable land).

Among other oil crops, soya planting areas have developed, to approximately 10 thousand ha (0.7 % of arable land), and planting is localised mainly in Východoslovenská nížina (East Slovakian Lowland). On the other hand, the formerly traditional Slovak oil crop, poppy, is losing in importance, with an area of 5.5 thousand ha in the years 1994-1995.

ROOT CROPS

Root crops have a declining trend of planting areas. In the case of sugar beet the area stabilised at 32 thousand ha (2.3% of arable land) over the last years. A considerable area decrease was recorded in the case of potatoes, once the traditional Slovak crop, but whose area (e.g. in the year 1970 - 108 thousand ha) has decreased to 26 thousand ha (1.9 % of arable land). Potato planting areas have moved from higher lying areas to lowlands. Also bean types recorded a fall. Today, legumes are represented mainly by peas, with an area of 18 thousand ha (1.3% of arable land) on average.

OTHER CROPS

Areas of one-year fodders stabilised at a level of approximately 137 thousand ha (10% of arable land) in recent years, and they are represented almost exclusively by silage maize. In the case of perennial fodders, their areas also stabilised also at a level of 137 thousand ha (10 % of arable land).

Area of field vegetables stabilised at 12-14 thousand ha, while fruit vegetables grow on an area of 5 – 6 thousand ha and stipe-like vegetables have an area of around 2.5 thousand ha.

Meadows and pastures represent an important source of volume fodder in Slovakia with a present area of 540 thousand ha (27 % of agricultural land). Apart from smaller areas in the botto-mlands of larger rivers, these are mainly mountain and montane permanent grass covers, which are used for pasturing of cattle and sheep.

VINICULTURE, FRUIT-GROWING AND HOP-GROWING

Viniculture, fruit-growing and hop-growing do not belong among the important industries of plant production in Slovakia as regards area. Of the total area of these permanent covers, approximately 30 thousand ha (1.5% of agricultural land), viniculture is of the highest importance with approximately 18 thousand ha of vineyards, of which yield vineyards form about 12 thousand ha. From the regional point of view, viticulture and viniculture enterprises and areas are important, since they are connected with the historical and culture development of the region. The best-known areas in Slovakia are the Tokay, Small-Carpathians and Hont regions.

Also fruit-growing is important with respect to market, with apple trees representing more than 50%. The hop-growing industry, which recorded an approximately 70% decrease in area, have more a corporate than a regional importance, with the total area of hop fi elds amounting to 310 ha.

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