At a glance
- The percentage of agricultural land farmed organically rose by more than a factor of three since 1996.
- More recently, this proportion has only grown slowly.
- The Federal Government aims to increase the proportion of organically cultivated areas to 20 %.
- At the growth rate of recent years, this aim will take decades to achieve.
Conventional intensive agriculture causes a range of environmental impacts and is partly responsible for a loss of biodiversity. Organic agriculture, on the other hand, is a more environmentally sustainable and ecologically beneficial type of management. The aim is to create nutrient cycles which are as closed as possible and a type of management in harmony with nature.
Organic farming does not use any mineral fertilisers. A range of crop rotations with intercropping maintain and support soil organisms and soil fertility. Avoiding the use of synthetic chemical pesticides enhances biological diversity on agricultural land. Animal husbandry aimed at the species' welfare benefits the animals and improves acceptability amongst the public. Organic agriculture therefore has a pioneering role in sustainable land management.
Assessing the development
The proportion of organically managed areas has risen continuously over the last 30 years. The percentage has more than tripled from 2.1 % to 6.3 % between 1996 and 2015. But even though the area of organic farming has shown a steady increase in recent years, the annual increase has slowed, however. German farmers often find that organic farming does not give high enough yields to finance the large increase in rents.
As part of both the German Sustainable Development Strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy, the Federal Government aims to increase the proportion of organically cultivated areas to 20 % (Federal Government 2016 and BMU 2007). Germany is still a long way from achieving this aim. If the percentage area continues to develop as slowly as it has over the last six years, the target will only be reached after several decades.
Additional effective steps are required if the aim is to be reached within the foreseeable future. Adequate guaranteed funding is a key requirement for encouraging farmers to convert to and continue with organic farming.
To qualify as an area of organic farming requires certification under the EU Regulation on organic production (EC No. 834/2007). The Federal States collect the data and the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) publishes the complete figures annually. Along with data on the total agricultural area, the percentage area of organic farming is published annually in the ‘Statistisches Jahrbuch über Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Forsten’ (BMEL 2016, in German only). A slightly different data set is used by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany for the German Sustainable Development Strategy indicator. Due to methodological differences, this discloses a slightly lower share of organic farming areas within the total utilised agricultural area in Germany.
More detailed information: 'Ökologischer Landbau' (in German only).