Sustainable Agriculture Guide

The Sustainable Agriculture Guide has been developed with input from Poland’s leading experts in a wide range of agricultural, climatological, social and financial fields.

It is a comprehensive compendium of knowledge on sustainable agriculture. The content of the Guide will be updated on an on-going basis, in line with developments in available knowledge, technologies and regulations. The aim of the Guide is to provide farmers and other interested parties with the most complete and competent knowledge possible of what sustainable agriculture is and how it can be practically implemented.

This Sustainable Agriculture Guide has been produced exclusively for the Association for Sustainable Agriculture & Food in Poland as a result of the work of the team of co-authors and editors listed below.

Co-authors: Andrzej Bieganowski, Prof., Małgorzata Bojańczyk, M.Sc., Artur Godyń, PhD, Grzegorz Doruchowski, PhD, Jakub Kempczyński, M.Sc., Leszek Kiełtyka, M.Sc., Jerzy Kozyra, Prof., Robert Kupczyński, Prof., Dawid Olewnicki, PhD, Jerzy Próchnicki, PhD, Stanisław Samborski, PhD, Grzegorz Siebielec, PhD, Magdalena Szymura, PhD, Rafał Wawer, PhD, Monika Wańkowicz, M.Sc., Anna Wittbrodt, M.Sc., Paweł Ziółkowski, M.Sc,

Editorial team: Jerzy Próchnicki, PhD – Chief Editor, Stefan Pruszyński, Prof. – Editor, Andrzej Moch, M.Sc. – Editor, Dariusz Rutkowski, M.Sc. – Editor, Marcin Sokołowski, M.Sc. – Editor, Artur Dominiak, M.Sc. – Editor.

A huge thank you to the many members of the Association supporting the creation of the Sustainable Agriculture Guide with their comments and suggestions. The publication is covered by copyright. All rights reserved. Unauthorised distribution of all or part of this publication in any form is prohibited. Photocopying, photographing or copying of the publication on film, magnetic or other media infringes the copyright of this publication.

The translation of the “The Sustainable Agriculture Guide” was co-financed by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Poland.

Rationale and instruments for making Europe’s economy sustainable

The idea of preserving the surrounding environment in a state of equilibrium has a centuries-old tradition, and as early as the beginning of the 18th century (in 1713), with regard to forest management, Hans Carl von Carlowitz proposed cutting down only as many trees as could grow back in the forest in their place.

Legal compliance

Agricultural production, like other sectors of the economy, is regulated by relevant legislation in EU and non-EU countries. Some of these form the legal basis for sustainable agriculture.

Financial stability

Financial stability is one of the key pillars of any business. Without it, there is no question of success, or even survival in the market. However, this issue becomes particularly important in the case of a family-run, generational business – such as a farm.

Farm Management

A farm is a kind of enterprise that is most dependent on its farmer’s own decisions, both present and future, weather events, as well as soil and climate conditions, the supply markets of the farm and the sales of its products.

Sowing and Planting

The level and quality of yield primarily depends on the genetic features of crops, their yielding potential and specific quality characteristics that manifest under specific production conditions.

Soil Management

Soil is formed on the surface of the Earth’s crust. It is a natural, biologically active, three-phased system formed by weathered rocks, as well as dead and living organic matter. Soil is formed and changed as a result of climate conditions, time, and living organisms, including microorganisms and humans.

Nutrient Management

The management of soil nutrients requires knowledge on their contents (soil richness), change dynamics and availability. It also requires knowledge on the functions of the fundamental factors determining the effectiveness of crop nutrition (water, pH, organic matter) and their mutual relationships.

Plant protection

Crop protection is an element of crop production aimed at preventing the loss of yield caused by agrophages and securing the agricultural produce during its storage. Crop protection does not directly influence a higher yield, but is a guarantee that such a yield will be obtained and ensures stability of its quantity and sustainability.

Agricultural chemicals and waste management

One source of danger to humans and the environment is hazardous chemicals used in agricultural production or left over from production on farms. Plant protection products, mineral fertilisers and fuels or oils used in mechanical equipment can be particularly hazardous.

Water Management

The most significant factors affecting crop yields include the amount of available water and the quantity of solar radiation. Proper water management is possible and necessary. Agriculture utilises approximately 70% of the water used in worldwide human economy.


Our environment contains an abundance of living organisms, only some of which are visible to the human eye, yet all of them influence one another and us. Thanks to the multitude and diversity of the life forms around us, we have food and enjoy the beauty of nature. On the other hand, however, we need to protect our health, crops and homes.

Air and greenhouse gas emissions

Agricultural activity is one of the significant sources of air pollution. Unfortunately, the knowledge of this fact is not rooted in social awareness, because the emission of pollutants is dispersed, and therefore hardly visible.

Market access

Every entrepreneur strives to develop their business, increase revenue, reduce costs and thus achieve better and better results. This is perfectly reasonable and rational; after all, this is what running a business is all about, where the owner takes responsibility not only for the institution itself, but also for the people he or she employs.

Working conditions

Working conditions are all the factors in an organisation that are related to the nature of the work and the environment in which it is carried out. Working conditions include, but are not limited to: the location of the company and workplace, the facility and scope of work, the material equipment of the working environment.

Health and safety

Occupational health and safety (OSH) is a commonly used term for a set of rules for the safe and hygienic performance of work, and is a separate field of knowledge dealing with the shaping of appropriate working conditions.

Local Community

Local community – it is a group of people living within a relatively small, designated area, including for example a parish, or a village, in which there are strong ties resulting from common interests and needs, as well as a sense of being rooted and belonging to the place they live in.

Animal production

Livestock production is the most difficult branch of agricultural production. Taking into account all limitations and conditions, there is no more complicated and demanding direction of production.


Sustainable development is not a one-off action currently in force, but it will be implemented in the next years and decades, and one of its basic assumptions will be the use of new achievements that allow you to get closer to optimal functioning in all areas of life.