Overview of measures

In contrary to some measures, which are specifically aimed at fields or at specific areas of the farm, some measures are designed to affect the whole farm. Although these measures demand a greater effort from farmers, concerning mind-set, a greater result is probably achieved.

The different measures that farmers have to take differ substantially. Some of the measures demand only small changes of management (e.g. a more diversified cropping pattern), while others ask for a completely different approach of farming (e.g. conversion to organic farming). The three categories that this class is divided up in are organic farming, sustainable practices and crop diversity.

Organic farming

Organic farming is a well-known strategy to farm more sustainably. It applies several practices that include use of only organic fertilizer and limited use of pesticides. Organic farming can thus be seen as a system that relies on ecosystem management rather than external inputs 1.

Sustainable practices

Several practices that enhance the sustainability of the farm affect the farm management as a whole. Examples of such practices are conversion to more sustainable farming and planning and monitoring of the sustainability of the farm.

Crop diversity

Crop diversity could be seen as the variation of crops that is used on the farm, on a single year, or over several years. Several measures such as crop rotation and intercropping enhance crop diversity and are therefore beneficial for the environment.

Comparison and details

Agri-environmental schemes    Greening     Less favoured area payment

CategoryExpected from farmerEnvironmental benefitsPriceExamples of regionsBarriersOpportunities
Organic production

Convert to and/or apply organic production methods
  • Positive impact on the environment (per unit of area)
  • Higher soil organic matter
  • Less nutrient losses
Conversion: 87,5-860 EUR/ha
Continuation: 52-410 EUR/ha
  • Flanders
  • Poland
  • Sweden
  • Lithuania
  • Finland
  • Latvia
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Bavaria
  • France
  • Romania
  • Italy
  • UK
  • Slovakia
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Portugal
  • Austria
  • High cost of conversion
  • Problems (e.g. nutrient deficiencies and weed problems) are harder to be solved
  • More labour required
  • Organic production is a well-developed and understood practice
  • Yield difference often minimal
  • Environmental benefits
  • Lower input cost and higher output price results in higher economic returns
Crop diversification

Not cultivate crops from the same family year after year
  • Reduce need for pesticides and fertilizers
  • Enhance soil quality
  • Finland
  • France
  • Bavaria
  • Training is needed to grow another crop
  • Cost of specific infrastructure and equipment
  • The crop has to fit in the management of the farm
  • The crop is often not as profitable as the crops already planted
  • Crop rotation suppresses pest outbreaks
  • It buffers the shocks because of extreme events
  • The yield is often higher in a crop rotation
Enhance sustainable practices

Maintenance of traditional extensive orchards
  • Protect soil from soil erosion
  • Enhance unique biodiversity
231-1618 EUR/ha
  • Greece
  • Bavaria
  • Portugal
  • Wales
  • Netherlands
  • Harder to manage (more laborious, height of trees)
  • Lower economic returns
  • Can be a refuge for some species
  • Maintenance of beautiful landscape
Enhance sustainable practices

Environmentally friendly (more extensive) farming
  • Biodiversity
  • Improve water quality
  • Improve soil quality
  • Estonia
  • Nord-Pas-De-Calais
  • Spain
  • Cost of extra land needed
  • Imported feed is often cheaper
  • Burden of not doing this conventionally
  • Lower reliance on external inputs
  • Closing the circle on the farm
Enhance sustainable practices

Planning and monitoring
  • Improve water
  • Soil quality
  • Biodiversity
  • France
  • Finland
  • Ireland
  • Administrational burden
  • Certain skills are needed to do this
  • Effectiveness of planning and monitoring on the management
  • Organizational benefits

Case studies: 

Wheat farms in hinterland of Macerata, Italy

The case study farm in Macerata is a typical wheat farm, which are common in the region. Before the greening measurements, there were only two crops on the farm: durum wheat and alfalfa. Alfalfa was planted only for crop rotation of the wheat. To obtain the greening payments which are part of the first pillar of the CAP, the farmer had to take several measures. Firstly, he farmer had to grow at least three crops as the farm is larger than 30 ha. Furthermore, also the ecological focus area had to be met. Therefore, it was chosen to apply fallow ground on 5% of the area. The permanent grassland measure of the greening was not applicable here, as no grassland is present on this farm.

The cost of compliance to the greening measures is estimated at approximately 2600 euro. As the payment is 3700 euros, it is interesting to comply with the greening measures.

Source: Finco, A., Bentivoglio, D., & Meo, R. (2015). Old and new style of greening payments: economic and environmental implications for italian agriculture. Aestimum, 33–49.

ID kit
What: Crop diversification and Fallow land
Location:  Macerata region, Middle of Italy
Duration: /
Area: 42.97 ha
Measures taken: Crop diversification: three crops are cultivated (wheat, sunflowers and alfalfa)

Ecological focus area: three hectares of productive land were let fallow

Objectives: Enhance biodiversity

Prevent leaching

Prevent erosion




Organic plant production in Mani, Greece

In Greece an organic plant production scheme rewards farmers for conversion to and maintenance of organic production. In Mani, some olive farmers implemented the scheme. In a study, it was researched what the environmental benefit was of implementing organic farming, and thus whether the payment was appropriate.

The results show that organic farmers pollute less, conserve biodiversity better and manage the soil more sustainable. Therefore, it can thus be concluded that it is appropriate that there is an environmental payment towards the farmers in the case.

Source: Christopoulos, S., & Vlahos, G. (2011). OECD Workshop on the Evaluation of Agri-environmental Policies. Braunschweig, Germany. Retrieved from https://www.oecd.org/tad/sustainable-agriculture/48089445.pdf

ID kit
What: Apply organic production in Mani peninsula, Greece
Location:  Mani, South of Greece
Duration: /
Area: 280 ha
Measures taken: Apply organic production
Objectives: Biodiversity

Soil management

Less pollution