The European Commission is planning for significant cuts in the use of fertiliser and pesticides as part of the upcoming EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030.

A draft document of the plan (which has not yet been formally finalised or released) reveals plans to cut fertiliser use by “at least” 20% by 2030, as part of an attempt to reduce nutrient losses by 50%.

“The commission will promote the goal of zero pollution from nitrogen and phosphorous flows from fertiliser through reducing nutrient loss by at least 50%. This will also result in the reduction of use of fertilisers by at least 20%,” the draft strategy says.

This will be achieved by applying balanced fertilisation and sustainable nutrient management. To this end, the commission will develop an integrated nutrient management plan in 2022.

At the same time, the commission is planning to cut the use of chemical pesticides by 50% by 2030.

The aim of this is to prevent a decline in farmland birds and insect populations.

“Their alarming decline must be stopped and reversed. To this end, the commission will take actions to reduce by 50% the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 2030 and reduce by 50% the risk entailed by high-risk pesticides by 2030,” the strategy document says.

Other points

Among the other stand-out points of the Biodiversity Strategy is a focus on organic farming.

The plan states that 25% of the EU’s agricultural land must be under organic farming by 2030. The reason for this, according to the document, is that: “It is a sector with positive employment trends that attracts younger workers in a general context of very low generation renewal in farming, [and] provides 10% to 20% more jobs per land area than conventional farms.”

The commission is set to put together an action plan on organic farming which will include measures to increase demand for organic products.

The plan also sets out the commission’s intention to place an extra 4% of the EU’s land under protection, on top of the 26% already protected.

In a similar vein, areas “of high biodiversity value or potential, and most vulnerable to climate change” will be granted “strict protection” under the plan, which would leave natural processes “essentially undisturbed”.

CAP and Farm-to-Fork

In terms of how the Biodiversity Strategy will fit in with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Farm-to-Fork Strategy, the draft document says that all three will work “in tandem” through the promotion of eco-schemes and result-based payment schemes, and they will share monitoring and reporting systems.

The commission will ensure that the CAP strategic plans are assessed against robust climate and environmental criteria.

“These plans should lead to the use of sustainable practices such as precision agriculture; organic farming; agro-ecology; agro-forestry; and stricter animal welfare standards, and thus contribute to the implementation of the objectives under this strategy,” the document outlines.

The Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 was initially supposed to be released at the end of last month, but was delayed. AgriLand understands that the current time-frame will see it released later on this month instead.