Analysis of crop production in the European Union

Analysis of crop production in the European Union

Crop production is the most crucial primary agricultural production activity for both food and nutrition security. Besides its importance for the direct human consumption, crop production is also crucial for producing feed for livestock and increasingly also for aquaculture.

Most generally, crop production is primarily determined by the interaction of land use and crop yields. Both land use and crop yields are affected by various drivers. The deliverable on drivers of crop production consists of two main parts.

The first part of the paper is strongly aligned with the SUSFANS conceptual framework in terms of  deepening the driver section in the conceptual framework with respect to crop production.

The second part of the paper is based on empirical work. It first shows a yield trend analysis followed by the analysis of  yield gaps, i.e. the gap between biological potential and actually realised yields, across the EU.

Yield trends can be decomposed into productivity growth due to technical progress (e.g. breeding) and decreasing yield gaps, often achieved through different management. Both descriptive and empirical analysis focus on the most important crops in Europe and, if possible, vegetables and fruits as important crops for nutrition security and the respective SUSFANS case study.

First results on crop production in the EU show that:

Wheat makes up for around 45% of the total cereals production in the EU28. It is followed by maize (23%) and barley production (18%). Most wheat is produced in France, Germany, United Kingdom and Poland. Together these countries account for more than 60% of wheat production in the EU28.
Among the vegetables and fruits with the highest production quantities in the EU28 are tomatoes, carrots, onions, apples, peaches and citrus fruits. Additionally, the EU is the largest producer of olive oil worldwide.

The empirical analysis is planned to be based on farm data from the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN). FADN provides European-wide data of about 80,000 sample farms. The sample farms are selected in order to best represent the total population of about 5,000,000 farms in the EU. A request for FADN data was sent to the European Commission.

Preliminary results on yield trends of cereals in the EU suggest that yield growth rates are declining in the old member states (EU15), whereas increasing growth rates can be found in many of the new member states. The trend estimates are very sensitive to the length of the time series.
The literature on yield gap analyses has been searched and is discussed in the paper. If data become available on time, a yield gap case study will be shown for the preliminary deliverable version due in September.

by Andrea Zimmermann, WP4