Pazardjik region is situated in the central part of Southern Bulgaria with an area coverage of 428,664 ha. Agriculture plays a major role in the region’s economy. Agricultural land covers a relatively large percentage of the region: approx. 33%. Forests dominate the landscape with relative share – 56%. Basic agricultural trends in the region involve the production of a variety of vegetables and potatoes, vine growing, oil-supply crops and orchards. Exceptionally favourable natural climate and soil conditions, along with the strategic location in respect with major consumer centres in the country, provide opportunities for the production of almost all plants and crops grown in the country. The availability of natural and underground water resources along with artificial water sources result in a total lake capacity of over 650 million m3. The substantial hydro-irrigation system provides watering capabilities for around 77% of the total cultivated land in the region.
The favourable soil and climate conditions provide opportunities for local farming to develop in many ways. The biggest share is for grassland: 35.4%, followed by cereals and fallow land. The main Bulgarian rice production is concentrated at the district. The size of set-aside lands in the Pazardjik district is 24,257 ha or 17.2%.
The total amount of direct payments in period 2007-2012 is 8.4 Mio. Euro. Payments cover 56,459 ha or 40% of agricultural land in the Pazardjik region. Measure 214 Agro-environment payments are one of the most important measures for maintaining the landscape. The total budget for this measure amounts to over 2 Mio. Euro. The share of the measure 214 represents 12.5% of total direct payments in the region. The most popular actions undertaken by farmers in measure 214 are shown in table below. The composition of regional landscape is predominated by grassland, set-aside and forests which is the main reason for popularity of the following actions: Maintain pastures (49% of all adopted proposals), Maintain or introduce extensive grazing practices (20%), Organic farming (19%). In conclusion the measures are relevant and contribute regional development. In the matter of fact the adoption of them must be accelerated in order to achieve economic and social benefits in certain areas. The main conclusions are: Some measures (e.g. 114, 122, 213) contributing the landscape are not implemented in Pazardjik region; Measures of the group of related services and activities are the most important. They cover 88% of total expenditures. Measure 321 and 121 are the most favorable in the region. They account for more than 50% of expenditures, mainly for projects on water supply network, sewerage and purification. There is an increasing interest to measures 211 and 212 recently. The most spread activities in measure 214 are mountain pastures, extensive grazing practices and organic farming.
Livestock management practices
That branch is traditional in the region and there are appropriate conditions for it. It is presented by cattle breeding mainly. Production is small in size, most of the farms breed 20-30 cows. Only small numbers of farms possess new equipment for dairy and milk storage. Selection is not organized well. It often uses a bad genetic material which decreases productivity of animals.
Crop management practices
The pest management system is dominated by chemical pesticides. Nutrient management system is based on using of N fertilization. Common practice spread among farms is soil analysis of nutrition elements. The average size of a farm is 1.5 ha.
Rice growing is situated on 13.5% of irrigable land. Rice is growing as a mono culture. Rice fields are followed by fallow land.
Land use management
The share of grassland is 35.4% of total arable land. The mountainous part of the region is covered mainly by Cambisols, which are a good for pastures for stock-breeding. The share of set-aside land in Pazardjik district is higher than the average national level – up to 25%.
Total irrigated land is 54,689 ha, representing 38.8% of the arable land. Total land under gravity irrigation is 42,576 ha which is 77.9%; total land under pipe irrigation is 10 957 ha or 20%. Pipe drop irrigation land is 1,156 ha or 2.1%. The substantial hydro-irrigation system provides watering capabilities for rice and vegetables growing.
Favourable soil and climate conditions contribute to the development of agriculture in the region in various ways. As already mentioned, the following crops have significant importance in the region: wheat; maize; rye; barley; oats; triticale; and sunflower. These crops can be grown for energy as well. However each crop mentioned in the table below can be grown for energy purposes and for biofuels production. The most favourable conditions are in flat parts of the region.
Infrastructure development and urbanization
The Pazardjik region is situated on the route of the trans-European corridors No.8 and No.10 connecting Western Europe with the Near East and Central Asia, as well as the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea. The region is also crossed by the national motorway as part of the E-80 international route connecting Western Europe to Istanbul, as well as other convenient roads, which link it to other regions in Southern Bulgaria. A basic railroad for the region is the CE-70 international railway connecting Central Europe and Asia.
There are 4 types of protected areas. They include 1 national park, 4 reserves, 69 protected places and 15 natural landmarks.
- Fields and pastures: Pastures account over 20% of agricultural land. Vineyards are common as well as pastures and extensive grazing practices.
- Landscape diversity: There is a good mixture of plain and mountainous relief. The size of set-aside land is increased. The forests are well preserved.
- Protected areas: The share of those areas is 8.2%. It is above average on national level. During the last 10 years the surface of protected areas has increased by 24%.
- Historic buildings: There are several towns with rich heritage of the Bulgarian Renaissance. Well maintenance of buildings and archaeological places.
- Water resources: There are 8 lakes with 1 Mio. m3 volume. Also a lot of sources of mineral water are available, providing favourable conditions for tourism and balneology.
Vital regulating functions of landscape are local climate and air regulation, and waste water treatment. The good climate conditions of region benefits all major economic sectors. Waste water treatment benefits local agriculture, tourism industry and trade industry, by increasing productiveness (irrigated agriculture), reducing expenditures for water treatment. Cultural landscape services cover recreation and physical health for tourists and local citizens. The landscape also provides habitats for species which benefits tourism activities such as hunting and watching. According to the expert evaluation major contributors for development of agriculture, forestry, tourism and trade industry is provisioning and regulating services of landscape. The focus group of experts pointed that in future landscape composition and function will influence regional economy as follow:
- Various relief characteristics, along with the available water resources provides conditions for development of electrical energy production through water power stations and cascades;
- High mountain areas provide opportunities for the development of ski tourism;
- Medium-high mountain regions, fertile soils and variety of climate conditions are suitable for development of organic farming and animal breeding.
Provisioning as a landscaped function provide values and benefits by:
- Food – Special regional products as a magnet to tourists (wine)
- Raw materials - Short distances of raw material provision;
- Fresh water – Benefit./profit of irrigation;
- Medicinal resources – Benefit/profit of medical plants production
Regulating as a landscaped function provide values and benefits by:
- Climate- CO2/O2 balance;
- Biological control –Costs of pest control;
Cultural & amenity as a landscaped function provide values and benefits by:
- Aesthetic – Pleasures in cultural diversity
- Recreation – Profit of all health/recreation related touristic offers
- Spiritual – Profit of all touristic offers related to spiritual experience and sense of place.
Habitat or supporting as a landscaped function provides values and benefits by:
- Habitats – Pleasures in biodiversity;
- Maintenance – Existence values
Nikolov, D., P. Borisov, T. Radev (2012). Policy intervention effects on landscape management in Bulgaria. 132nd Seminar of the EAAE (European Association of Agricultural Economists), "Is transition in European agriculture really over?" Skopje, October 25-27, 2012.
Borisov. P., S. Radev, D. Nikolov (2014). Influence of landscape to create a competitive wine tourism. Economics and management of agriculture 1: 28.
Nikolov, D., P. Borisov, T. Radev (2014). Integrated Landscape Analysis: Consumers’ Preferences Aproach for Defining the Competitive Landscape Composition. A Case of Wine Tourism in Pazardjik District, Bulgaria. Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science 20 (4), 761-766.
Dimitre Nikolov, Petar Borisov, Teodor Radev
Agricultural University Plovdiv
Mendeleev Str. 12, Plovdiv, Bulgaria