The agricultural land constitutes just under 7 percent of Sweden’s entire land area; In 2018, 2.5 million hectares of arable land and close to 4.5 million hectares of pasture land (including meadows).
Agriculture accounts for 1.2 percent of employment, only 0.5 percent of GDP and 5 percent of goods exports. Imports are significantly larger than exports and the surplus of imports has increased for almost every year. This applies especially to animal products, vegetables and fruits.
During normal harvest years, Sweden is self-sufficient with grain and also has a small export. Only half of Swedish food consumption is now produced in the country, but the degree of self-sufficiency is no longer an important political issue.
Since the mid-1900s, Swedish agriculture has undergone a series of radical changes. The cultivated area has shrunk considerably and the number of people employed has been greatly reduced. More and more farms have become companies with large capital turnover, while the number of small farms has steadily decreased.
The direction of agriculture has changed as a result of changed consumer habits and changes in agricultural policy and in international trade and pricing.
Agriculture has become less important in the Swedish economy. Increasingly, the focus is instead on the importance of agriculture to keep the landscape open and on its potential to produce biofuels.
According to Countryaah.com, Sweden Independence Day is June 6.
Agricultural conditions and structure
Farming conditions vary greatly between north and south. The vegetation period is just over seven months in Skåne but only half as long in northern Norrland. This limits the cultivation of many crops in Götaland and parts of Svealand. Soils, soils, topography and other soil conditions also differ between different areas, which results in varying fertility and thus large differences in yields for different crops. Internationally, however, the return on Swedish agriculture is high, mainly as a result of modern farming methods and fertilizers. The ongoing climate change means that the growing season is extended, mainly in the north, where spring comes earlier.
The agricultural field of agriculture
A large proportion of agricultural land is used for the cultivation of grassland, green fodder and cereals (bread seed and feed grain).
The most common cereal crops are wheat and barley.
In particular, wheat cultivation has increased in recent years. Bread seed is mainly grown on the plains of Götaland and Svealand, while fodder seed is found throughout the country. For most crops, the yield per hectare is highest in Skåne. Crop and green fodder crops occur throughout the country. Following changes in agricultural policy in 2005, this area has increased.
The most striking area increase in the 2010s is responsible for oilseed rape and rape. They now grow on just over 4 percent of all arable land and are grown on the plains in the southern part of Sweden. Sugar beets are grown almost exclusively in Skåne.
Free-range cultivation of vegetables, mainly carrots, onions and lettuce, is mainly found on suitable, light soils in Skåne and Halland as well as in Öland and Gotland. Growing of vegetables has increased as demand has grown and distribution networks and marketing have developed. More than two-thirds of all kitchen plant area and most of the Swedish fruit growing is in Skåne.
In addition, agriculture plays a small but growing role in the production of renewable energy.
The number of cattle and pigs has decreased as a large part of the small family farms with mixed production have disappeared. The change in agriculture in the early 1990s meant that it became advantageous to switch from milk to meat production. In 2016, there were only dairy cows on only 3 900 farms. The usual is large-scale operation, and on average the herds comprise about 80 dairy cows.
Reindeer husbandry is conducted in the three northernmost counties. Sweden is one of Europe’s most horse-proof countries, but just under a third of the animals still have the traditional role of labor in agriculture. The breeding and leasing of riding horses has become increasingly common.
Grazing animals in agriculture are important in order to achieve the agricultural policy’s objectives on the management and conservation of pastures, open landscapes and biodiversity.
Agriculture’s environmental impact
Sweden started early with action programs to reduce the use of chemical agents such as weed protection, fungal infestation and pests, and the risks of using them.
The use of fungicides and insecticides has decreased significantly over the past 25 years. Sales of herbicides have also been reduced, largely because they have switched to new preparations used in smaller doses.
A major environmental problem is the leakage of the plant nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural land to watercourses in the cultivation landscape and further out to the surrounding sea, where there will be eutrophication with serious ecological consequences. The reason for the leak is that too much nutrition is added in the form of artificial fertilizers or natural fertilizers.
For many years, the total nitrogen leakage in agriculture has been reduced, as a result of the agricultural area decreasing, the proportion of cultivation growing and crops and cultivation methods changing.
Agriculture is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, which is a consequence of fertilization (gives nitrous oxide), animal husbandry (gives methane gas) and cultivation of mullet soils (gives carbon dioxide) and the use of fossil fuels (gives carbon dioxide). Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture have decreased somewhat since 1990, mainly as a result of reduced animal husbandry.
In 2013, 16 percent of all agricultural land was used with organic production methods. Nearly a quarter of that is in Västra Götaland County. The land that is converted to organic farming is mainly used for mowing and for grazing. Grain is grown at just under a fifth.
Agricultural socio-economic situation
Despite the size rationalization, a majority of agriculture is still too small to provide a sufficient standard of living for a household. In wooded areas it is common for farms to also include forest land that contributes to their livelihood. However, every other farmer has his main income from other activities. More than 10,000 farmers also invest in tourism, in-house processing of agricultural raw materials (mainly milk and meat), construction work, construction and other services for individuals and municipalities. The forms of support under the current agricultural policy are intended to facilitate such widening activities in order to hopefully maintain a vibrant rural area.
In agriculture, the average age is getting higher. In 2016, almost a third of all farmers were older than 64 years.
When Sweden became a member of the EU in 1995, this meant that we also came within the scope of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with its various goals and support systems. CAP has been revised several times with consequences for Swedish agriculture. See further agricultural policy.