Poland Agriculture and Water Quality Protection Project
The Poland Agriculture and Water quality Protection Project was a four year effort, begun in 1992, designed to address agricultural water pollution issues through a multi-focused approach. This project addressed these objectives through multi-level education efforts, assistance in policy development and demonstration of sustainable farming and waste management practices in selected watersheds in northeastern and northwestern Poland. Poor agricultural and rural waste management practices contribute significantly to the degradation of surface and ground water quality, and may thus also affect urban populations who depend on these sources for drinking water. As nearly 100 percent of Poland lies within the Baltic Basin, the effects of poor agricultural practices extend beyond Poland's borders and affect much of northern Europe through contamination of the Baltic Sea.
The Polish Agricultural Water Quality Project (PAWQP) was a cooperative effort between EPA and the Polish Ministry of Agriculture and Food Economy. The project was implemented by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University in Ames, and the Institute for Land Reclamation and Grassland Farming (IMUZ) near Warsaw. Approximately 38 percent of the Polish population lives in rural areas. The agricultural sector provides 25 percent of the employment and utilizes about 65 percent of the nation's land area. Thus, agriculture and related activities have a direct impact on large segments of the human population and ecological infrastructure of Poland.
Demonstration Farms: Demonstration farms were developed to display economically and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices, encouraging participation by farmers, agricultural advisory centers, local officials, schools and other agricultural professionals in adopting such practices in rural areas.
These farms were used to demonstrate a wide range of environmentally and economically sustainable agricultural practices. The goal was to improve human and animal waste handling, agricultural chemical handling, runoff control, and erosion control while maintaining or improving production and profitability. Sustainable technologies and land management practices demonstrated on the farms included:
- Manure storage and handling;
- Domestic waste water management;
- Integrated fertilizer application methods;
- Integrated pasture management;
- Introduction of legume crops as nitrogen sources;
- Introduction of clover onto grasslands;
- No-tillage permanent grassland renovation;
- Cover cropping.
Education and Dissemination of Information: Agricultural information on sustainable practices was given to the public, farmers, future farmers, governmental and non-governmental institutions and agricultural and environmental professionals. The results from the farm demonstrations were distributed broadly throughout Poland through informative leaflets and training programs.
The project team worked with an environmental organization to organize and pilot a training program for local community leaders. The training demonstrated the benefits of merging advanced agriculture science and practice with well-trained local community leadership. Their partnership will help solve agriculture and water quality problems and support longer-term economic and social development throughout their communities.
Institutionalization and Policy Development: Efforts were designed to provide a strong, broadly based foundation for development of sustainable agriculture in Poland. By assisting in the establishment of programs within central and regional governmental institutions to address agro-environmental issues and bridge institutional barriers, a closer cooperation between the agricultural and environmental research and regulatory communities was achieved.
Specifically, the project established a working group to coordinate activities between the Polish Ministries of Environment and Agriculture. An additional working group was established to assist the Ministry of Agriculture in developing the institutional capacity to address agro-environmental issues. Throughout the project, project staff coordinated closely with bilateral and multilateral donor organizations to leverage other sources of funding and to ensure the expansion of sustainable agricultural activities throughout the region.
Key Objectives of the Poland Agriculture Project
- Create a social, economic and political climate that encourages the recognition of agriculture-related water quality issues;
- Develop solutions for agriculture related water quality issues;
- Promote institutional innovation and policy changes that can result in long-term commitment to sustainable agriculture and improved water quality in Poland.
- The demonstration farm project helped to secure financial commitments from local and national Polish government organizations.
- The project sponsored a large conference for decision-makers throughout Poland and surrounding Baltic Basin countries to exchange information on sustainable agriculture and rural development.
- Papers and reports were presented by project staff and published and distributed throughout the United States and Europe.
- Based on the success of the project, a number of additional projects sponsored by the World Bank, Sweden, Denmark, France are now being implemented throughout Poland and the Baltic Sea region.
EPA Region 7 Contact
Kathleen L. Fenton
CARE Program Manager