9. Utilised agricultural area
Agricultural area in Slovenia accounts for less than one-quarter of the total area and this share is decreasing. Total utilised agricultural area (UAA) covers around 480,000 hectares. In the last ten years alone, it has decreased by 3.4%, around 1 pp more than in the EU as a whole. The decline is mostly due to the abandoning of agriculture and the consequent overgrowth of land by trees and shrubs. Forests cover approximately two-thirds of the total land area, which places Slovenia among the most forested countries in the EU. The share of other land categories, which is high particularly in countries with a lot of infertile land or with high population density, is relatively low.
In the structure of agricultural land, permanent grassland (meadows and pastures) predominates, there being relatively little arable land. Permanent grassland constitutes around six-tenths of the total agricultural area, which is to a great extent a consequence of natural conditions. The relatively large total production of fodder crops is, in turn, reflected in the relatively large share of livestock breeding in Slovenia’s agriculture. The area taken up by fields, the most important type of land from the aspect of food security, is low – Slovenia is one of the four EU countries with the least arable land per person, at around 8 ares (the EU average being around 2.5 times as high). The share dedicated to the growing of vegetables is also relatively low, as a large share of fields is used to grow fodder crops. The area taken up by permanent crops, where vineyards predominate, has increased somewhat in the last decade, to around 6% of agricultural area.
Organic farming, the best form of agricultural production from the environmental perspective, is more widespread in Slovenia than in the EU as a whole and is increasing. Around one-tenth of all agricultural holdings were involved in controlled organic farming in 2017. Permanent meadows and pastures dedicated to the production of fodder account for by far the largest share in the structure of this land, the shares of other categories being relatively low. This is however not in line with demand for ecologically produced food, which is greatest for fresh vegetables, fruit and vegetarian processed foods. There remains significant scope for the further development of organic farming in Slovenia given its natural conditions, i.e. the high share of farms in mountainous and other remote areas where intensive conventional farming is not possible.
Figure: Arable land per person, 2017