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Soil Protection

Soil is threatened by accelerating degradation processes caused by climate change among others. A large amount of agricultural land lies in areas that can be built upon, thus it can be assumed that in the future – several years to a few decades – this land will no longer serve its agricultural purpose.

The forced collectivization of the 1950’s has significantly damaged the relationship of owners to their land. Nowadays, 74 % of fields is leased and sometimes it is only managed for short-term profit. This percentage of leased land is very high compared to Western European countries.

Soil protection is one of society’s priorities and is dealt with via an emphasis on the informational, educational and motivational impact of all the measures. It cannot be attained without the active participation of us all. It presumes general public awareness and the farmers’ professional knowledge about protecting the landscape and the soil and real efforts
on their part to comply with best practices and technologies. The Czech Republic uses comprehensive land consolidation as a highly appropriate and effective tool to protect soils, which helps, among others, to prevent the soil degradation process. Consolidation has been implemented on more than a quarter of the agricultural land in the CR. This involves a new, rational, spatial arrangement of the land for all land owners and at the same time it provides the conditions for improving the environment, protecting and fertilizing land resources, functional water management and increasing the ecological stability of the landscape. This tool also returns much needed landscape features to the landscape.


Soil fertilization

incorporation of organic matter into the soil promotes the formation of the soil’s micro-structure and the life it contains, it maintains and improves the soil’s sorption capacity, ensures binding of nutrients in the soil which are kept there instead of being released into the ground and surface water. It will be desirable to stop the declining trend in the sorption capacity and the input of essential nutrients, including micro minerals.

Many farmers only focus on fertilizing with nitrogen, which is the cheapest of nutrients; the other nutrients are added far below the necessary minimum. A more intensive supplementary use of organic fertilizers would help to significantly improve the situation and the basic nutrients in the soil. However, there is a lack of organic matter for fertilization. It is necessary to find and use alternative sources, especially green fertilizers and composts, but also sludge from sewage treatment plants, etc. In the future, increasing the proportion of organic matter added to the soil and increasing the supply of nutrients to the soil should be a measure of a green approach to soil and an expression of every farmer’s professional

Soil retention capacity

It is expected that climate change will bring a more frequent occurrence of weather extremes such as floods and drought. For this reason, it is necessary to focus on the options for promoting natural infiltration and water retention in soil. The soil can hold immense amounts of water, up to
320 litres per cubic metre. The less the soil is degraded, the greater it will act as a retention tank. In the Czech Republic about 40 % of agricultural land is at risk through compaction. Soil compaction reduces the thickness of the usable soil profile for crop roots, thereby negatively affecting the cycling of substances and water in the soil. This results in reducing the capacity for rainfall to percolate and be retained in the soil, as is the case with extreme climatic events such as long-term drought and torrential rain. Torrential rain is often associated with flash floods.


Roughly 60 % of agricultural land is potentially threatened by some form of water erosion, 35 % of the CR has the most vulnerable soils. Currently the maximum soil loss in the CR is estimated at approximately 21 million tonnes of topsoil per year, which can be expressed as an economic loss of at least CZK 4.3 billion. About 45 % of agricultural land in the CR is potentially threatened by various degrees of wind erosion. Another tool that the MoA has available to ensure the protection of soil from erosion and other degradation is primarily the standards of Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) which support agricultural management in compliance with environmental protection. The set of soil protection technologies is designed to ensure soil protection while taking into account
the economic and organisational burden on the farmer. The MoA, in cooperation with the Research Institute for Soil and Water Conservation (RISWC), has published the Manual for Protection against Water Erosion for farmers and smallholders. The manual primarily provides farmers and smallholders with practical information on how to successfully protect the soil from erosion. An important form of soil protection is the payment for fulfilling the conditions of agricultural practices favourable to the climate and the environment – or greening. The introduction of the greening rules motivates the farmer to manage the land in a more environmentally friendly manner. Payment for greening does not come automatically for farmers; it is conditional on meeting prescribed procedures.


Building on land

The construction associated with the uncontrolled expansion of settlements, together with erosion, is currently the biggest problem facing agricultural land. From 2010 to 2016, the Czech Republic lost 25 000 ha of agricultural land, to curtail the problem of building on agricultural land to
a lower tempo as a result of applying the amendment to the Act on the Conservation of Agricultural Land Resources – the daily loss of agricultural land is now about 9 ha.

Soil acidification

According to the evaluation criteria of the agrochemical testing of agricultural land, the alarming changes in the pH over the last 25 years are visible in arable land, which has shifted almost 17 % of the land in the CR with a neutral reaction into the categories slightly to strongly acidic soils, in contrast, the percentage of soils with strongly alkaline and alkaline pH has stagnated. 62 % of soils in the CR are highly threatened by acidification. The percentage of strongly acidic and acidic soils is 26 %, the percentage
of weakly acidic soils is 43 %. The largest percentage of acidic soils is located in the Karlovy Vary (54 %) and South Bohemia (51 %) regions, followed by the Vysočina region (50 %) and the Pilsen region (47 %). Currently, the average value of the soil reaction on the arable soils is 6.2. The development of the soil reaction in the CR suggests a growing trend of acidification, particularly in potato growing areas with poorer soils that have a lower capacity to balance pH.

Web applications for soil protection

The MoA objectives concerning soil protection are met with the aid of projects developed by the Ministry in cooperation with the RISWC. It primarily concerns various web applications and portals. These include, for example, Land Usage Limits allowing agricultural land use limits to be analysed, an Anti-erosion Calculator that provides information on the degree of erosion risk faced by the chosen site and enables farmers to introduce organically fertilized crops into the crop rotation on areas threatened by erosion, Erosion Monitoring – a web portal that provides background data on agricultural land erosion, Soils in Numbers for analysing and monitoring changes in soil properties, Groundwater Vulnerability with information on water vulvulnerability to leaching of hazardous substances and much more besides. More information on individual projects and applications can be found at the subportal PŮDA at www.eagri.cz.