Latvia is a parliamentary republic, where the President is elected for a period of 4 years. This system was initially established on November 18, 1918. Both the Declaration of the Renewal of the Independence of the Republic of Latvia dated May 4, 1990 and the August 21, 1991 declaration re-establishing de facto independence, proclaimed the authority of the Satversme (Constitution). The highest legislative body in Latvia is the one-chamber Saeima (Parliament), whose 100 deputies are elected for four years in direct, proportionally representative elections by citizens 18 years of age and over. The Head of State is the President of the Republic and he/she is elected by the Parliament. The President appoints the Prime Minister who leads the government (Cabinet of Ministers).
Latvia lies on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea and between 55° and 58° North and 20° and 28° East; its area 64 589 km2 of which 38% is considered agricultural land and 44% forests. Since ancient times, with its coastline exceeding 500 km and easily accessible ports, Latvia has been a significant link between the states surrounding the Baltic Sea and Russia. The Baltic Sea has always been of great importance in its political, economic and cultural life. The overall length of Latvia's boundaries exceeds 1 800 km, 1 350 km of which is land border. Latvia is bounded by Estonia (337 km) - on the north, Lithuania (576 km) - on the south, Russia (292 km) and Byelorussia (171 km) - on the east The longest straight distance from North to South is 210 km and from East to West 450 km. The length of the Baltic coast line – 495 km.
Among the independent European states only Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Albania and Estonia as well as eight tiny countries are smaller. The total population is 2 319 100 (2004), of which 29.2% is rural (According to World Factbook the July 2006 population estimate was 2,274,735 with a growth rate of -0.67%). The economically active population is 1 400 000. Population density is 36.6 inhabitants/km2. The capital of Riga has a population of 806 000 in 2003 which constitutes 34.1 % of the total. Administratively, it is divided into 26 districts (496 municipalities) and 26 district towns. District self-government is an administration of a district, which shall, through the mediation of Council (a representation delegated by local (pagast) self-governments) and institutions formed by the Council perform the functions stipulated in the law. The largest cities are: Daugavpils (117 000), Liepaja (96 000), Jelgava (71 000), Jurmala (59 300), Ventspils (50 400), Rezekne (42 900).
The official state language: Latvian belongs to the Baltic language group of the Indo-European language family. It is one of the two still living Baltic languages, the other one being Lithuanian. Latvian is the native language of about 1 690 000 people in the Republic of Latvia. Additionally, 260 000 in Lithuania, 20 000 in the republics of the former USSR and 95 000 people abroad speak Latvian as a first or second language. The language has developed on the basis of the geographical closeness of its nationalities (Selonians, Semigallians, Couronians, Latgallians). Traditionally three main dialects have been distinguished - the Central dialect (the basis for the literary language), the High (or East) dialect and the dialect of the Livs. The nationalities: custom nationality Latvians-56.5%; Russians-30.4%; Byelorussian, Ukrainian, Polish – 9.7%, other nationalities – 3.4 per cent. Religion: Protestants - 29.8%, Roman Catholic-49.2%, Russian Orthodox –14.5%, Jews – 3.9%, Anglicans-1.8%, others – 0.8 per cent.
Though several years have elapsed since the 2000 Population Census was conducted, the all-round and comprehensive information provides the basis for ever new aspects characterising the population. This time detailed information is provided on the place of birth and nationality of the Latvian population.
Data from the population census show that 1 938 000 or 81.5% of the population were born in Latvia and only 435 000 or 18.3% born in other countries. For 0.2% of population there is no information on their birthplace according to the census data.
The issue of national adherence is very important in the country. Although the naturalisation process goes on, only 1.77 million or 74.5% of the resident population were nationals of the Republic of Latvia. 504 000 thousand or 21.2% were Latvian non-citizens. Only a small part of the Latvia population, i.e. 103 000 persons or 4.3% were nationals of other, mainly European countries. The number of foreign nationals involves citizens of more than 100 different countries. 73% of all foreign nationals are citizens of the former USSR without any other nationality obtained. Almost 19% of foreign nationals were from the Russian Federation.
The country joined the European Union in May 2004. The national currency is the Latvian Lat –LVL (1 lat = 100 Santim =1.42 EUR).
Latvia has a wide variety of plants and animals – total approved ~ 27,700 species: animal – 18,045 (the greatest part consists of invertebrate, mainly insect), plant – 2,434, lichen – 492, fungi – 4,000, algae(seaweed) – 2,680.
Latvia is in a humid and moderate climatic region with rainfall exceeding evaporation (soil moisture coefficient > 1) resulting in a percolating moisture regime in the soil. The form of Latvia with its sea coast allows the Atlantic air masses to penetrate the land. Latvia is affected by the warm currents of the Gulf Stream system, and their effect is enhanced by the prevailing westerly winds, carrying the Ocean's moisture and warmth to Latvia. The mean annual temperature is 6.6 0C in Southern Latvia (town Liepaja) and 4.2 0C in Northern Latvia (town Aluksne). The mean annual rainfall ranges from 550 to 600 mm in the lowlands and from 700 to 800 mm in the highlands. The climate of Latvia favours leaching of Automorphic soils, podzol-formation; water accumulation on less permeable soil layers results in soil gleying, bog formation and development of Semihydromorphic and Hydromorphic soils.
The most productive soils of Latvia have been formed on clayey parent materials enriched with carbonates (2 - 20 %), such as moraines, hydrogenic deposits, alluvial and deluvial drifts. Many soils essentially contain no carbonates, being leached out from the upper soil. The soil-forming process has been affected by parent material in two parts; topsoil is usually of coarser textural composition compared to subsoil, which is resistant to water retention resulting in pseydogleying (contactgleying) and bog formation.
Automorphic soils occur on hilly topography and in sites with good ground water retention; gleysolic, mucky-humus gley soils and bog soils are dominant in areas with low topography and poor water retention; flood-lands of river valleys are characteristic of alluvial soils. Recently, 41 percent of the total land area is under forests. Deciduous trees and grasses are dominant on parent materials higher in carbonates and plant nutrients. Organic material derived mainly from leaves, twigs, and woody material is accumulated on and in the soil; active calcium neutralizes organic acids and retards leaching out of soils and podzol-forming process. Humification, stabilization of humus status in soil and sod-forming result in the most productive soils of Latvia - Sod-calcareous and Brown soils.
Mixed coniferous/deciduous forests are prevalent on non-carbonate parent materials which are lower in plant nutrients and do not contain carbonates. Acid forest litter favours leaching of soils and podzol-formation, resulting in development of Podzolic soils in dry sites and Podzolic-gleyish soils in locations with higher moisture content. Organic matter with low degree of decomposition is accumulated as the result of anaerobic processes in waterlogged areas with prolonged saturation as well as in overgrowing water basins. Available plant nutrients are fixed in little decomposed organic matter, and plants are deficient in mineral nutrients. Due to this, bog vegetation - moss and sphagnum - are dominant resulting in the development of Organic soils.
Major soil improvement methods in Latvia are: drainage and reclamation, liming, build up of humus, fertilizer use, subsoiling, levelling and clearing the fields of boulders, soil erosion control.
According to their hydrothermic properties, Latvian soils are divided into three classes: Automorphic, Semihydromorphic and Hydromorphic. Automorphic soils develop in well drained sites with good water retention, and are usually associated with a deep groundwater table. Due to good decomposition of organic matter under aerobic conditions, these soils are not high in humus.
Development of Automorphic soils is characterized by some peculiarities concerning parent material and processes going on in the soil. Composition of parent material is really diverse: limnoglacial and clay deposits are most widespread in Latvia. Textural peculiarities and processes going on in soils of Latvia are not characteristic to podzol forming processes due to diverse parent material: parent material consists of two parts (the soil strata are composed of two layers) with water impermeable clay layer in lower soil horizons and seasonal upper surface gleying. It is usually determined by geological factors and processes going on in soil, and complex formations of geological factors. Distinct surface gleying of silt loam and clay soils is associated with temporary or prolonged saturation with water in spring and autumn. Most widespread upper surface gleying is the main process going on in soils of Latvia. Percolating water regime is limited to a great extent due to heavy textural composition of soils; it occurs only on sandy parent material. On the whole, processes of soil surface gleying essentially affect genesis of soils promoting or preventing other processes going on in soil. It should be noted that Sod-pseudogley soils with neutral or even alkaline reaction and high in free carbonates in the middle part of a profile were classified as Sodpodzolic contactgleyed soils by a number of researchers from Dokuchaev Institute of Soil Science. Brown soils occur in the southern part of the Zemgale Plain under broadleaf forests and rich grass vegetation. Frequently these soils have developed on limnoglacial and moraine materials. This region is characterized by the lowest mean annual rainfall - 450 to 500 mm and the highest cumulative active temperatures - 2100° C to 2400° C.
The moderate humid and mild maritime climate of Latvia favours the development of Brown soils in particular areas. Podzol-forming processes do not occur due to intensive biological turnover of nutrients and accumulation of basic cations when carbonates have been leached from the upper soil horizons. A qualitative new process of Brown soil development starts which is characteristic with intensive weathering of parent materials and development of clay in situ. Stability of Brown soil development and fertility of these soils are determined by high saturation with calcium and other basic cations. This process is favoured by chemically rich parent material. Brown soils are the most fertile Latvia forest soils with thick humus layers. In the next stages of development Brown soils are moving into Brown lassie soils due to differentiation of the upper soil horizons. Chemical composition of the silt fraction is stable in all horizons of Brown leached soils.
According to the soil classification system the following soils belong to Automorphic soils: Sod-calcareous soils, Brown soils, Podzolic soils, Podzols, Weakly developed soils, Eroded soils, Anthrosols.
Sod-calcareous soils are not widely distributed in Latvia. They mainly occur on flat topography in Zemgale. Most frequently they are found in fields and under forests. Primarily they have developed on parent material containing carbonates as well as on limnoglacial deposits, moraine, gravel, dolomites, limestone etc. The sod-forming process is associated with intensive humus development and accumulation of biogenic (N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, etc.) elements in the upper soil horizon. Under natural conditions it is typical under grasses and deciduous forest vegetation. Carbonates and basic cations neutralize acids in the soil and prevent leaching and podzol-forming processes. Sod-calcareous soils are slightly leached out, comparatively high in humus content and plant nutrients. These soils have distinct texture. Sod-calcareous soils belong to the most productive soils of Latvia.
Brown soils are not widely distributed in Latvia. They mainly occur on flat topography in the Southern part of Zemgale and under forests in Kurzeme. Brown soils have developed on diverse, chemically rich parent materials, most frequent on limnoglacial and moraine sandy loom which are low in carbonates. Development of Brown soils is characterized by the intensive weathering of primary silica minerals and formation of clayey minerals in situ. Due to intensive biological circulation of substances on parent materials which contain carbonates, development of Brown soils is going on resulting in loess soils which develop even into Podzolic soils. Brown soils are among the most fertile soils in Latvia.
Podzolic soils are the most widespread in Latvia - approximately 50 % of the total land area including arable land. They occur mostly in fields and under forests in all soil regions of Latvia, even to some extent in Zemgale. Podzolic soils have developed on diverse parent materials, most often on coarse textured parent materials that once were calcareous but now at a depth above 60 cm carbonates have been weathered and leached out. Podzolic soils have developed under the influence of podzol-forming processes. It results in weathering of primary and secondary minerals under the influence of fulvic and other acids (oxalic, formic, citric) as well as under the influence of activities of microorganisms and the leaching out of products of weathering of the upper soil horizons.
Podzols occur mainly under coniferous and mixed forests on coarse textured parent materials. Soils are of low productivity and are devoted to afforestation.
Weakly developed soils and Eroded soils. Water erosion is most widespread in Latvia. It occurs on agricultural land with hilly topography. Wind erosion is insignificant in Latvia; it occurs on sandy structureless soils in the coastal regions. Soils are considered eroded if the upper soil horizons are removed and parent material is outcropping in the surface layer of the soil and where soil is under development again.
Anthrosols occur in minor areas where intensive activities by man have left an impact on natural soil-forming processes and soil genetic horizons. Intensive soil cultivation results in very cultivated soils. Recultivated soils, Technogenic soils and Buried soils are distributed among others. Buried soils are not only a result of activities by man; these soils may be developed naturally as, for example, deluvial material of "travelling dunes".
The development of Semihydromorphic soils is associated either with moderately high groundwater tables or periodic saturation with stagnant water. These soils are approximately one third of the total agricultural land. They occur in all soil regions of Latvia. Properties of these soils have been affected by sod-forming, gleying, podzol-forming and other processes of soil development.
Increased moisture content in Automorphic soils results in the development of Semihydromorphic soils with the process of gleying being dominant. At the initial stages of gleying some gley mottles are distinct; an increase of prominent mottles results in the development of the gleyed horizon and Gleysolic soils. Development of an overall continuous gley horizon results in Gleyish soils. The following types of gleying should be distinguished: bottom or ground gleying; upper (topsoil) gleying; pseudogleying or contactgleying; continuous all profile gleying. The following soil types of Semihydromorphic soils are distinguished: Gleyish soils, Podzolic-gleyish soils, Alluvial soils.
Gleyish soils occur in all soil regions of Latvia; most frequently on parent materials rich in carbonates or where the development of Gleyish soils is affected by mineralised waters containing calcium and magnesium bicarbonates. Sod-forming and gleying processes are dominant. According to the type of gleying (upper, ground, contactgleying) and degree of gleying (gleysolic, gley) as well as depending on soil organic matter content diverse Gleyish soils have been formed. These soils are relatively fertile soils, yet they are in need of drainage.
Podzolic-gleyish soils are widespread throughout the whole territory of Latvia. Most frequently these soils occur on coarse textured parent materials. These soils occur in meadows, grasslands and under forests. Podzolic-gleyish soils have developed as a result of sod-forming, podzol-forming and gleying processes. Commonly these soils have been formed from Podzolic soils under increased saturation with water. Depending on type and degree of gleying, and the organic matter content these soils are subdivided into several subtypes. Podzolic-gleyish soils are comparatively infertile soils with unfavourable agronomic traits; they are in need of overall soil improvement.
Alluvial soils. Distribution of these soils in Latvia is insignificant. These soils occur in former and existing river valleys, the coastal zone of shallow lakes, in areas flooded in spring or having been flooded some period ago. Commonly Alluvial soils occur in natural meadows and grasslands, and are extensive cultivated fields. These soils have derived from muddy silts. Diversity of Alluvial soils has developed depending on flood water streams, textural, humus and chemical composition of the silty alluvia. Deluvial soils also belong to this soil type.
Hydromorphic soils have developed under conditions of excessive moisture when the soil surface horizons are waterlogged. All Latvian bog soils belong to Hydromorphic soils. Bog lands are approximately 10 percent of the total land area. Major areas occur in Piejura Lowland and East Latvia Plain; insignificant areas occur in other Latvia soil regions; minor areas - in Zemgale Plain. Depending on botanical composition and plant nutrition regime we distinguish Low or Grass bogs (Lowland bog soils), Transitional bogs (Transitional bog soils) and Upland or Sphagnum bogs (Upland bog soils).
Lowland bog soils are approximately 50 % of the total bog area. These soils occur in almost all soil regions of Latvia: in meadows and grasslands, and under swampy forests. Formation of bogs is associated with Lowland bog soils due to nutrient-rich ground waters, waters of underground springs, and rivers. Lowland bog soil peat is usually black in colour, well decomposed, strongly mineralised, mostly loose, and slightly acid to neutral.
Transitional bog soils occur in rather insignificant areas: grasslands, meadows, under forests as well as at the margins of Upland bogs. At depths, nutrient-rich ground waters have a minor effect on plant nutrition; plants with low response to nutrients become widespread. Transitional bog soils are medium between Lowland bog soils and Upland bog soils both by bog vegetation and peat qualities.
Upland bog soils are approximately 42 % of the total bog area. These soils occur in Piejfira Lowland (Riga-Jelgava-Smarde), North Vidzeme, East Latvia and elsewhere, mainly in lowlands and plains. These soils have derived from plants having low response to mineral substances, primarily from sphagnum which feed on rainfall and air dust. Sphagnum grow rapidly; the cupola-shaped bog surface is slightly elevated in the vicinity. Upland bogs are usually covered with sphagnum, but marsh tea (Ledum palustre), heather (Calluna vulgaris and Erica spp.), blueberries (Vaccinium myrtilis), c1oudberries (Rubus chamaemorus), cranberries (Vaccinium oxycoccus) and pines (Pinus spp.) may also grow on them. Sphagnum peat is reddish brown and little decomposed. The thickness of peat deposits may even reach up to 10 m. Bog materials are acid or extremely acid; they are relatively low in ash (2-5 %), nitrogen (1-2 %), CaO (0.2-0.4 %) and P2O5 (0.05-0.15 %). These soils are not recommended for cultivation; they are little used in agriculture.
Source: Karlis Bambergs, Rainis Skujans, Henrihs Mezals, Latvia University of Agriculture
The uplands of eastern Latvia (Aluksne, Vidzeme, Latgale and Augszeme) are higher than in the west and north (Northern, Western and Eastern Kursa and Sakala). On the up-glacier side of the insular and marginal uplands of eastern Latvia the boundary of the uplands with the lowlands is marked by the 85 - 90 metre contours, but on the down-glacier (southern) side of highlands 125 - 135 metre contours. The boundary with the radial type of highlands in western and northern Latvia is along the base of the active ice contact slope, and in general corresponds to the 50 - 60 metre contour interval. Towards the south it increases to 80 - 90 metres above sea level. The insular and marginal uplands are characterized by a thick Quaternary cover (more than 40 metres, maximum thickness 80-160 metres in the central part of the deposits). They consist of primary massifs and areas of plateau-like large hills, morainic and cupola-like hills of medium size and hilly ridges. In the radial type uplands intermediate thickness (20-40 metre, maximum up to 80 metre ) of Quaternary cover predominates. The massifs of morainic and cupola-like hills of medium and small size, as well as, elongated hilly ridges and rolling plains are very common in these areas.
Glaciated lowlands, characterized by rolling or flat relief, are underlain by elongated and broad bedrock or sub-Quaternary depressions. In the territory of lowlands the bedrock surface is covered by a thin, in average up to 10 metre, cover of Quaternary deposits. In these areas along river valleys and the seashore, picturesque bluffs of sandstone and less frequently escarpments of dolomite are revealed. Otherwise the lowlands generally are most conducive to intensive agricultural activity.
Three glaciated lowland types are distinguished in Latvia:
Source: Vitalijs Zelcs, University of Latvia
For agriculture, drainage is more important than irrigation. Over 90% of the agricultural land in Latvia can only be intensively cultivated if drained. The current climatic conditions are the continuation of the sub Atlantic climate. The form of Latvia with its long sea coast and surrounding Baltic sea allows oceanic influences to penetrate to the interior of the land. Latvia is characterized by relatively mild winters and cool summers.
For its latitude, Latvia has a peculiar temperature regime since the maritime temperate climate in the western part is transitional to a more continental one in the eastern part. The climate is characterized by moderately cold winters, while summers are moderately hot. The mean January temperature ranges from –3 °C to –7 °C in coastal regions. The period with the lowest temperatures lasts up to February 20 - February 25 in the western and central regions; in the eastern regions this period lasts till March 1 - March 5. Springs drag on, and are relatively cool. Latvian summers are cool and rainy. The mean July temperature rises to 16 °C – 17 °C. Variations in temperature are determined by relief and occurrence of water basins. The westerly winds crossing Latvia determine weather: the temperature of the coolest month drops below 10 °C and seldom remains for a prolonged period, while maxima in summer does not exceed 20 0C. Mean annual winter temperatures range from +5 °C to –5 °C in coastal regions; in eastern regions temperatures do not exceed –15 0C in winter, and rise to +30 °C in summer.
The mean annual rainfall levels of Latvia are rather diverse: 550 – 600 mm average. Rainfall is generally higher in hilly regions, with slopes facing moist air masses: in the western slopes of Vidzeme Upland (700-800 mm), and western slopes of Kurzeme Upland (650-700 mm), while rainfall decreases on eastern slopes.
Much of the rain (70 %) falls in April - October. Maximum rainfall (>100 mm) occurs in August. Rainfall is lower in spring.
Precipitation, as constant snow cover, occurs in December 30-January 5, but already from December 15 in eastern regions. Early March is the beginning of snow melting in Western Latvia; in the eastern regions it occurs in late March, and in early April in the regions of Vidzeme Central Upland. The thickness of the snow blanket exceeds 30 cm in the most part of the territory of Latvia; in eastern regions with hilly topography the snow cover is 40-50 cm deep.
The soil is frozen 20-30 cm under the snow cover in coastal regions; the depth of frozen soil exceeds 40 cm in central regions, and in eastern regions its depth ranges from 40 to 60 cm. The depth of frozen soil layer may exceed 1 metre in extremely severe winters; in eastern regions it is up to 1.20 metres deep.
Westerly and south-westerly winds prevail in Latvia, although other winds may occur between years and seasons as well. The strength of the winds is insignificant: 2-5 m/s., but in autumns may exceed 35 m/s. and 20 m/s. in coastal regions and inland, respectively. The vegetation growth period starts in April, when average daily temperature reaches 5 oC. Intensive crop growing starts with the active vegetation period. This earliest possible date for this period is May 5 and is common for South-East Latvia, and the latest – for Kurzeme coastal line due to the cooling influence of the Baltic Sea.
River basins and surface water resources. Depending on physical and geographical conditions, a large part of the river discharge comes from either snow melt, groundwater or direct surface runoff. About 50-55% of the waters of the Daugava, Venta, Lielupe and Musa rivers is melted snow, while for the Gauja and Amata rivers it is 35-40%. About 10-20% of the flow of some tributaries of the Lielupe (Memele and Svete) and the Aiviekste tributary of the Daugava is fed by groundwater, while for the Daugava and Gauja rivers it is 35-40%. In the Kurzeme peninsula and in the middle uplands, direct surface runoff accounts for 40% of flow of the rivers, while in the Zemgales plain it represents 20-30%.
The Daugava basin has a total area of 87 900 km2, of which 28% is located in Latvia. The Daugava River rises in the Russian Federation, flows through Belarus (where it is called the Western Dvina), enters Latvia in the southeast and flows northwest to the Gulf of Riga. Several tributaries enter the Daugava River inside Latvian territory, including four large ones: Ogre, Aiviekste, Dubna and Rezekne.
The Gauja basin has a total area of 8 900 km2, of which 88% is in Latvia. The Gauja River rises in the Vidzeme upland and flows east, then turns northwest, becomes the border between Latvia and Estonia for a short distance, and then flows southwest to the Gulf of Riga.
The Salaca basin covers the north of the country, near the border with Estonia. Its total area is 3 600 km2, of which 92% is located in Latvia. The Salaca River rises in Lake Burtnieks in the north and flows west to the Gulf of Riga.
The Lielupe basin has a total area of 17 600 km2, of which 50% is situated in Latvia. The Lielupe River rises in Lithuania, enters Latvia in the south and flows north to the Gulf of Riga through the most fertile regions of the country. It has many tributaries, the most important being the Memela, Jecava and Svete.
The Venta basin has a total area of 11 800 km2, of which 67% is situated in Latvia. The Venta River rises in Lithuania, enters Latvia in the southwest and flows north through the Kurzeme lowland to the Baltic Sea. The Venta has many tributaries, but only one of them, the Abava River, exceeds 100 km in length.
The coastal basins between Lithuania and the Venta have a total area of 5 100 km2. This area includes rivers such as the Barta, Durba, Riva and Uzava, which flow to the Baltic Sea.
The basins within the coastal lowland, on the opposite shores of the Gulf of Riga have a combined area of 3 800 km2. This area includes rivers such as the Irbe, Stonde, Roja, Svetupe and Vitupe.
The Velika basin consists of a number of smaller rivers flowing into the Velika in the Russian Federation. Its area within Latvia is 3 200 km2. The total discharge of the Velika amounts to 4.2 km3/year, of which 16% is generated within Latvia.
Lakes. There are about 2 250 lakes with a total area of about 850 km2. About 36% of them are located in the Latgales upland in the southeast of the country.
|4. RUMINANT LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION SYSTEMS
numbers and average productivity: historically the dairy sector has always been a priority
agricultural sector in
During the last 10 years during transition to the market economy there was a significant downturn in milk production which affected both the volume of milk production and the structure of dairy farms. In recent years, however, a trend to medium-sized dairy farms with 15-100 cows and modern technology has become quite apparent.
The number of cows (Table 4.1) and the overall milk production level have stabilised in recent years. Thus the average productivity of dairy cows in the reference period (2001-2003) was comparatively stable reaching the level of 4 261 kg per cow in 2003 (Table 4.2).
According to the data of the Latvian State Domestic
Animal Pedigree Information Data Processing Centre (SPDPC),
until 1 January 2004, there were 389 639 cattle registered in
The dairy herd is mostly composed of Latvian brown cows – 70 % of the recorded cows with average milk-yield of 4 550 kg from a cow per year (Table 4.3). The Holstein cows constitute 15.6 % of the total number of the recorded cows. Analysing the data regarding the results of 2003 by breed cross-section, according to the SPDPC data, in the group of red breed cows the Angler has had the best indices with an average milk-yield of 5 515 kg, content of milk fats 3,23 % but this breed constitutes a negligible amount of the total recorded herds.
introduction of the milk quota system, a fundamental basis for the
Common Market Organisation in the dairy sector, is based on the information
drawn from the milk producers' register, which will help remodel the
milk market of
Beef and veal production
Beef and veal amounts to 29.8 % of the meat produced. According to the data, the amount of the meat produced and consumed in 2003 has increased. The amount of carcass weight has increased by 1.3 times, but the consumption by 1.1 times.
to pork, the consumption of beef in
Meat production mainly takes place in farms, household plots and private subsidiary holdings. The structure of beef producing farms is still fragmented, but the number of holdings with more than 500 animals is increasing.
Sheep and Goats
The production of mutton and goat meat is best suited to small farms. There is a demand for lamb the live weight of which is 35 – 50 kg.
It must be noted that the quality of the horses improves due to State aid, herd selection and the implementation of qualitative breeding and advanced technologies in artificial insemination. In order to maintain and develop further this sector, subsidies to the amount of 134,000 LVL were disbursed to develop breeding activities by using high-value breeding animals and by preserving and improving the existing genetic type.
The implementation of the breeding programme of the Latvian horse breed must be continued, adjusting in circumstances where required the aims of the programme in accordance with changes in the market structure. The basic breed in the selection of which the Latvian horse keepers are engaged is the Latvian horse breed. At the moment, according to the SPDPC data, there are 229 herds with 4924 horses recorded. This number includes 1570 mares, 266 stallions, 3088 juvenile horses, 109 certified stallions, 374 obtained foals; working capacity examinations of 378 juvenile horses have been performed.
Recording pig performance is performed by breeders’ associations in accordance with the approved breeding programme for pig farming. The programme provides for the preservation of the Latvian White breed as a gene pool for future. By preserving part of the Latvian White breed without crossing the diversity of pig breeds increases for following generations. To continue development of the pig-farming sector, subsidies were provided for the implementation of the breeding programme by utilising high value breeding stock. This facilitates formation of competitive pork production herds and increases production efficiency, as well as preserving the gene pool of pig population. In 2003, 1.1 million LVL were disbursed for such purposes.
At January 2004, there were 2 115 pig herds with 312 054 pigs registered on the SPDPC register, an increase of 5.5 %, compared with 2002. The largest proportion is in herds with more than 1,000 animals (66.3 %).
|5. THE PASTURE RESOURCE
Rural development 38.3% or 2,474,000 ha of the total area of Latvia is occupied by agricultural land of which arable land constitutes 1,832,000 ha. The rest is orchards (29,100 ha), meadows (231,100 ha) and pastures (382,000 ha). According to the State Land Service, 503,100 ha or 21.2% of the agricultural land in 2002 was abandoned agricultural land; of this area 245,500 ha or 48.8 % was improved land. From 1998 till 2002, the amount of non-used agricultural lands has increased on average 2% per year. Abandonment of agricultural land is caused by changes in agricultural structure, less investment in rural areas and some land owners live in cities or abroad.
The whole agricultural sector was affected by the transition process. The value of agricultural production fell over 1991-1999 by about 57.2 % (1999 relative to the 1989-91 average (Directorate General for Agriculture, 2002).In the pre-transition years the main function of the arable sector was to supply livestock with feed; fodder crop area declined sharply in the transition period. In 1997 fodder crops accounted only for half of their area in 1990 (Directorate General for Agriculture, 1998). From 1992 - 2000 fodder area decreased by nearly 43%, from 718,000 ha to 412,000 ha.
Perennial green fodder in 2002 covered 347,600 ha. Since 1991 perennial green fodder area started declining. Production steadily declined up to 1997, then increased again in 1998 and finally dropped to reach a minimum in year 2001. Yield trends followed a comparable pattern and like other crops were greatly affected by the extremely low use of fertilizers which occurred in the nineteen-nineties; although the use of inputs recovered slightly in 1997, it is still low compared to pre-transition years.
Since the nineteen-thirties, the area of forest has increased constantly while the area of agricultural land has decreased. The most remarkable decrease has been in grasslands. Among the reasons are abandonment of land, abandoning traditional management practices such as grazing and mowing, and ploughing of the best areas.
Agriculture started to develop in the Neolithic era in
Meadows and pastures include semi-natural formations, sown and cultivated grasslands. Semi-natural grasslands occupy less than 1% of the total territory and can be found mainly in river valleys and in several areas along the seacoast. According to the Latvian Habitat Classification (Latvian Environment Agency, 2001), grasslands are divided into:
Dry grasslands. Dune and sandy grasslands with Carex arenaria, Festuca ovina, Lerchenfeldia flexuosa, Corynephorus canescens, Koeleria glauca, Poa angustifolia, Phleum phleoides, Dianthus deltoides - America vulgaris, Festuca trachyphilla; grasslands on rocks with Poa compressa-Saxifraga tridactylites, Jovibarba sobolifera; steppe grasslands with Helictotrichon pratense -Filipendula vulgaris, Medicago falcata - Helictotrichon pubescens, Brachypodium pinnatum; and grasslands of forest edges with Geranium sanguineum, Trifolium medium.
Medium moist grasslands. Grasslands characterised by the genus Nardus; fallow land grasslands with Anthoxanthum odoratum - Agrostis tenuis, Anthoxanthum odoratum -Briza media; true grasslands characterised by Festuca pratensis, Helictotrichon pubescens, Arrhenatherum elatius or Bromopsis inermis.
Moist grasslands. Very rich flooded meadows with Alopecurus pratensis; grasslands and pastures on rich and medium rich soil with Geranium palustre, Juncus effusus, Carex caespitosa, Scirpus sylvaticus, Geum rivale, Filipendula ulmaria, Calamagrostis epigeios; medium rich grasslands with Molinia caerulea, Sesleria caerulea, Carex flacca or Scorzonera humilis; coastal meadows with Agrostis stolonifera, Juncus gerardii or Alopecurus arundinaceus.
Wet grasslands. Acid and calcareous small-sedge grasslands and tall-sedge grasslands mainly characterized by Carex spp.
Ruderal grasslands. Nitrophile tall-grass communities with Chaerophyllum aromaticum, Aegopodium podagraria, Anthriscus sylvestris, Epilobium hirsutum or Epilobium parviflorum.
Some very important habitats for maintenance of biodiversity are the semi-natural grasslands, which developed during a long period of human influence. In most of these grasslands, chemical fertilizers have never been applied; thus they are important biotopes for a number of threatened plants. Approximately 40% of protected plant species are found in the grasslands; mainly in river valleys and in several areas along the coast. The most important grassland complexes are those around the Lakes Pape and Liepaja, at Kalnciems, Daugavgriva, in the Lubana lowlands, in Daugava, Venta and other river valleys and in the Randu salt marshes in Vidzeme coastland.
The potential of natural pastures is about 0.7 - 2 tons of dry mass. After fundamental improvement of these types of pastures their productivity increases in 2.5 - 4.0 times.
Sown pasture in the Latvia is usually multi-species seed mixtures (containing 4 - 6 components) comprising Trifolium pratensis, T. repens, Phleum pratense, Festuca pratensis, Dactylis glomerata, Lolium perenne, Poa pratensiswith the seeding rate 25 - 30 kg/ha. Use of legumes in mixtures allows us to obtain high yield over several years without application of nitrogen fertilisers. Dactylis glomerata regrows 10-15 days earlier compared with Festuca pratensis and 25-35 days earlier if compared with Phleum pratense.Fodder galega (Galega orientalis Lam.) is a well-known legume for Latvian farmers; it is an early maturing perennial, persists for long periods, and has a high productivity and capacity to fix atmospheric nitrogen (Adamovich, 2001; Raig et al., 2001). Pure fodder galega stands, compared to other legumes, do not thin out over the years so provide stable yields of green feed and seeds. Fodder galega is an alternative forage to cover digestible protein deficit in feed rations and increase the protein content of home - produced forage. The symbiotic potential of fodder galega grown in mixtures with grasses contributes to the production of ecologically safe forage and animal products (Fig. 5.1).
Two-species mixtures of Trifolium pratensis and Phleum pratense are the most popular for the seeding leys which are two - three years swards for silage and hay. In recent years imported Danish (DLF Trifolium) seed mixtures and cultivars have succeeded in Latvia given proper management and on suitable soils.
Seed production. The former organised seed-production system collapsed after disintegration of the Soviet Union. In recent years the situation has improved due to imports, mainly from Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the USA. The local institution for forage breeding is the Latvian Research Institute of Agriculture The following grass and legume forage cultivars have been breed in Latvia:
of fodder grass and legumes seed in
the agro-climatic conditions of Latvia is not always economically efficient. According to
Latvian legislation only seeds produced in certified fields can be
sold. This is the reason for the small areas for seed production in
Among the above forages, seed production of Phleum pratensis, Festuca pratensis Dactylis glomerata, Trifolium pratense is in a good state compared to the others; they are basic species. Phleum pratensis Dactylis glomerata and Festuca pratensis produce 150 - 600 kg/ha, Trifolium pratense Trifolium repens and Trifolium hybridum produce 50 - 150 kg/ha (the seed yield of Galega orientalis is 250 - 600 kg/ha, Lolium multiflorum and Lolium perenne up to 700-1 200 kg/ha). These grasses are the most suitable for sowing in meadows and pastures mixed with other perennials and in fertile soils in fodder crop rotations with short (2-3 years) swards.
|6. OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT OF FODDER
The Rural Development Programme for Latvia 2004 – 2006 includes several measures for management of areas of high nature value under threat. There is an agri-environmental measure “Management of biologically valuable meadows” for the period 2004 – 2006, under which the total affected territory covers 20,000 ha of biologically valuable grasslands where farmers are compensated for environmentally friendly management of meadows. Similarly the measure “Less favoured areas and areas with environmental restrictions” compensates farmers for agricultural operations in 2000 nature sites. This measure is planned to start from 2005. Implementation of these conceptual models require further amplification and solution of some scientific and practical themes, which in their generalised form are as follows:
The more progressive farmers now recognise the advantages of Galega orientalis and Lolium perenne for producing high quality hay and silage. The superior value of Lolium spp. and Festulollium for grazing, and their management is less well known. Research is needed to see if different management practices, together with the use of more recent winter-hardy varieties, can alleviate this problem.
|7. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS
Education and science in the agricultural
Higher Education. The Latvia University of Agriculture (hereinafter – LLU) provides higher academic and vocational education in agriculture, forestry science, veterinary medicine, food science, rural socio-economic development, engineering sciences, information technology and environmental management.
The academic staff of the University is represented by 118 Doctors of Sciences and 22 Doctors Habilitus. The age structure of the academic personnel of the LLU demonstrates that the University should pay even more attention to the renewal of the composition of the professorship.
Institutes and academic institutions carrying out studies on meadow and pasture management and in animal production are shown below in tabular form.
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Raig H., Nommsalu H., Meripold H., Metlitskaja J. (2001) Fodder galega. Estonian Research Institute of Agriculture, Saku, 141 pp.
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