Country Pasture/Forage Resource Profiles



Russian Federation

russiansymb.jpg (10721 bytes)

russianflag1.jpg (1862 bytes)



G. Blagoveshchenskii, V. Popovtsev, Shevtsova, V. Romanenkov, Komarov

1. Introduction
2. Soils and Topography
3. Climate and Agro-ecological Zones
4. Ruminant Livestock Production Systems
5. The Pasture Resource
6. Opportunities for Improvement of Fodder Resources
7. Research and Development Organizations and Personnel
8. References
9. Contacts


The Russian Federation (Russia) is the north-eastern part of Eurasia (see Figure 1). Its territory is more than 17,000,000 sq. km (the largest country in the world), which is 12.6 percent of the globe; it spans 11 time zones and spreads for more than 9,000 km from east to west and more than 4,000 km from north to south. Due to its size Russia has many landscapes, climatic and soil zones and rich flora and fauna. Forests occupy almost half of its territory - 45 percent, water - 4 percent, agricultural land - 13 percent, deer pastures - 19 percent, the rest - 19 percent. About 70 percent of its territory is occupied by vast plains. There are about 120,000 rivers with lengths over 10 km, their total length is 2,3000,000 km. The longest rivers are: Lena, Enisei, Ob’, Amur and Volga. There are about 2,000,000 fresh and salt lakes in the Federation. The biggest are: Baikal, Ladozhskoe, Onezhskoe fresh lakes, and the Kaspiyskoe sea - a salt lake.

russiamap.jpg (49525 bytes)

Figure 1 - Location of Russia

All kinds of mineral fuel are mined in Russia, the bulk being oil (including gas condensate) and natural gas. The Russian land border is about 20,000 km and Russia borders on fourteen countries: Kazakhstan (6,846 km), China (3,645 km), Mongolia (3,441 km), Ukraine (1,576 km), Finland (1,313 km), Byelorussia (9,59 km), Georgia (723 km), Estonia (294 km), Azerbaijan (248 km), Lithuania (227 km), Latvia (217 km), Poland (206 km), Norway (167 km) and North Korea (19 km). The coast along two oceans and twelve seas is more than 37,000 km.

Russia has seven federal okrugs (regions - see Figure 2), which consist of 89 administrative bodies: 49 oblasts, one autonomous oblast, 21 republics, 6 krais (territories), 10 okrugs (divisions) and two large metropolitan centres - Moscow and St. Petersburg.

russiamap1.jpg (27202 bytes)

Figure 2 - Regions of Russia

Russia’s population is the sixth largest in the world; on 1 January 2001 it was 145,600,000 people (see Table 1); population density is 8.6 per sq. km. Russia is a multinational state and has more than 100 nationalities, with Russians making up more than four fifths of the population.

Recently there has been a redistribution of the work force which resulted in a decrease in the number of agro-industrial complex employees. This trend correlates with the general tendency in the country - workers are transferring to private business.

Table 1. Population in millions
  1997 1998 1999 2000
Total population





Working population





Rural population





Working rural population





Population employed in agriculture





* Source: Goscomstat

The decrease in the number of people directly employed in agriculture is a result of such factors as the collapse of collective system of management, decrease in living standards of sovkhozes (state farm) employees, lack of funds in territorial and local budgets, lack of state support, dramatic decrease of agricultural construction, and low salary. Recently, some improvements of the agro-industrial complexes (AIC) of Russia have been seen, but the general social-economic situation in AIC is difficult. Despite the absolute increase of the gross value added the AIC quota in the country’s gross domestic product is only 7 percent.

Russia is in a risky zone for farming, because the average soil fertility level is low; moreover, great damage is caused by anthropic factors. Russia’s agricultural land is about 200,000,000 hectares, including over 120,000,000 ha arable, about 2,000,000 ha of fallow, 2,000,000 ha of perennial crops, and over 87,000,000 ha of permanent meadows and pastures. On average there is about 1.5 ha for each resident of the country.

In 1992, after the collapse of the USSR the so-called campaign on kolkhoz (collective farm) and sovkhozes (state farm) reorganization started which intended:

  • Transfer of land and non-land means of production into the ownership of work collectives of agricultural enterprises,
  • Division of these funds into individual shares and
  • Re-registration of farms into one of the permitted legally-organized forms according to the current legislation of that date.

During recent years all kolkhozes and sovkhozes of the country have been re-organized. The majority, regardless of name, transformed into production co-operatives, where capital assets belong to a collective as share property and management is based on electoral co-operative principles. As a result of all reforms in the agrarian sphere a contradictory, rather sophisticated transitional structure of land ownership was formed: land owners are members of former kolkhozes and sovkhozes, land users are agricultural enterprises. Recently a small market in land shares has emerged (Table 2). Partly land belongs to individual farmers and families running domestic units.

Federal land legislation is quite liberal: it admits the right of private land ownership, and does not prohibit land transactions and foreign citizen ownership. But according to the Constitution land relations in Russian Federation are regulated by federal and regional legislation. Today 13 units of the Federation have their own land laws, where private ownership of land is very restricted or does not exist at all. Moreover, the Federal Law is not well enough developed; it does not guarantee enough property rights, and does not establish mechanisms for land transitions. The legislation is not observed properly, the modern system of real estate is at the stage of formation. That is why there is no reason to speak about a developed system of land private ownership in agriculture so far. At the moment the Russian Federation State Duma has adopted a Land Law, which may solve problems of land private ownership. So at present a new structure of agricultural enterprises has been established.. With market development in agriculture, big farms slowly evolve towards commercial corporate type enterprises.

Table 2 Agricultural enterprises split on form of ownership, year 2000 *





Joint stock company of open type



Joint stock company of closed type



Limited liability partnership



Partnership on trust



Association of individual farms



Agricultural co-operatives






Collective enterprises






State enterprises



Other (crop testing and seed station, bee yards,)



Branch unions of agricultural producers



* Source: Goscomstat

Farmers received the right to leave a collective farm with land and some property and to organize their own farm. This accelerated formation of individual farms. Nevertheless, most farmers stayed on large farms. Because of insufficiently considered policy the authorities’ expectations of quick formation of efficient farming did not come true. Today not more than 40,000 individual farmers out of 270,000 practice commercial production. Despite the fact that huge accumulated debts keep large agricultural production from collapse, the leading role in agriculture belongs to smallholdings (Table 3).

Table 3. Number of individual farms *
    1997 1998 1999 2000
Total number of farms Thousand units





Total land Thousand ha





Agricultural land ** Thousand ha










Arable land Thousand ha










Average per farm:          
Total land Ha





Agricultural land Ha





Arable land Ha





* Source: Goscomstat
** Agricultural land includes native and improved grassland and arable land

Though the significance of individual farms is increasing quite quickly, their share in agricultural production is small (Table 4). Correspondingly, their share of agricultural markets is not significant, and most likely this will not increase appreciably, but individual farms show alternative ways of production, create competition with traditional producers on some food markets and form new production chains.

Table 4 Indices of physical volume of agricultural production split by farm categories

(in comparable prices; in percent to the previous year)

  1997 1998 1999 2000
Farms of all categories
Agricultural production





Crop husbandry





Animal husbandry





Agricultural enterprises*

Agricultural production





Crop husbandry





Animal husbandry





Domestic holdings**

Agricultural production





Crop husbandry





Animal husbandry





Individual farms***

Agricultural production





Crop husbandry





Animal husbandry





* Former states and collective farms

** Agriculture production of small farms mainly for family consumption

*** Agriculture production of small farms for trade

The main change in the last few years is modification of the state’s function in agricultural and food markets (Table 5). The state changed quite quickly from market monopolist into an ordinary market agent, dealing with produce purchasing for regional and federal funds within the framework of its market quote. The unit weight of these purchases tends to decrease, though in animal husbandry the unit weight of state purchase is still high.

Lack of normal market infrastructure, or stable links with agents, sometimes leads to the other extreme: producers keep their old customers as best as they can, willingly taking risks of sale losses due to low prices or extremely protracted terms of payment for produce. This is especially typical of meat and dairy produce. Producers are "chained" to local processors; they agree to any terms, not knowing and not risking to look for alternative customers.

Many agricultural producers make contracts with the state on produce supply in exchange for fuel and lubricating materials or fertilizers. This credit enable them to get inputs necessary for planting or harvesting, but, on the other hand, ties producers with obligations to sell to state bodies on much worse terms than exist on the free market at the moment of payment for credit. Private goods credit occurs when there is lack of state means. Often it means terms more profitable in comparison with state credit, but not all producers agree to make contracts with private companies being afraid of non payment for the credit taken with new counteragents (the state may write off debt, but not private bodies).

As a result, today, subjects of agricultural activity, which are legal bodies, can be split into two groups that have managed to become established in these market conditions. The first one is about 40,000 individual, commercial farms, which is 15 percent of the number registered. The second is 3,000 - 4,000 (10 - 12 percent) of collective enterprises - joint stock companies, partnerships on trust, limited liability partnerships, reorganized kolkhozes and sovkhozes out of 27,000 rural enterprises.

Table 5. Individual farm activities
    1997 1998 1999 2000
Crop husbandry

Cereal and pulses

Planted area Thousand ha





Gross harvest Thousand t





Yield Quintal/ha





Unit weight of planted areas on all

categories of farms






Unit weight of gross harvest on all

categories of farms






Sunflower for grain

Planted area Thousand ha





Gross harvest Thousand t





Yield Quintal/ha





Unit weight of planted areas on all

categories of farms






Unit weight of gross harvest on all

categories of farms






Sugar beet

Planted area Thousand ha





Gross harvest Thousand t





Yield Quintal/ha





Unit weight of planted areas on all

categories of farms






Unit weight of gross harvest on all

categories of farms







Planted area Thousand ha





Gross harvest Thousand t





Yield Quintal/ha





Unit weight of planted areas on all categories of farms percent





Unit weight of gross harvest on all

categories of farms







Planted area Thousand ha





Gross harvest Thousand t





Yield Quintal/ha





Unit weight of planted areas on all categories of farms percent





Unit weight of gross harvest on all categories of farms percent





Livestock produce

Cattle and poultry sold for slaughter:          
live weight Thousand t





dressed weight Thousand t





Milk Thousand t





Egg Million





Wool Tons

2 660

2 416

2 110


At the same time there is another category of farms whose role increased dramatically in the nineties - the private domestic holdings of the rural people (Table 6). Today they produce half of all agricultural produce. And though their market share is not very high so far, their specific features are production efficiency, because nobody can run a private farm at a loss.

Table 6.

Private domestic holdings of rural population activity
    1997 1998 1999 2000
Crop husbandry
Planted area Thousand ha 3,000 2,975 2,988 2,980
Gross harvest Thousand t 33,821 28,659 28,849 31,393
Yield Quintal/ha 112.7 96.4 96.5 105.4
Unit weight of planted areas on all

categories of farms

percent 90 91 92 92
Unit weight of gross harvest on all

categories of farms

percent 91 91 92 92
Planted area Thousand ha 555 564 606 631
Gross harvest Thousand t 8,493 8,393 9,466 9,708
Yield Quintal/ha 150.9 146.6 153.7 151.6
Unit weight of planted areas on all

categories of farms

percent 74 76 74 76
Unit weight of gross harvest on all

categories of farms

percent 76 80 77 78
Livestock produce
Cattle and poultry sold for slaughter:   4,340 4,266 4,052 4,017
live weight Thousand t 2,712 2,674 2,563 2,544
dressed weight Thousand t 16,113 16,046 16,039 1,6114
Milk Thousand t 9,787 9,852 9,763 9,757
Egg Million pieces 31,163 26,347 22,020 -
Wool T - - - -
Unit weight of animal husbandry production on all category of farms
Beef and poultry (dressed weight) percent 55 57 59 57
Milk percent 47 48 50 51
Egg percent 30 30 29 29
Wool percent 51 55 56 -

Animal husbandry was the most sensitive branch in restructuring of agriculture, and the least profitable. In the USSR the herds of all livestock were kept at a stable level by state subsidies. Recent processes led individuals and weak farms to get rid of livestock due to the impossibility of obtaining enough fodder, high energy prices and non-profitability of production. Due to the imbalance of exchange between agriculture and other branches of the economy, prices of industrial production and services used in agriculture increased 9,000 times from 1991, at the same time prices of agricultural products only increased 200 times. As a whole, herd decrease in the public sector is faster than on private individual holdings. Now the pace of herd reduction is slowing down (Table 7). It is linked to organizational measures taken recently, as a result of which slowing of herd reproduction and animal preservation improves and mortality falls.

Table 7. Animal husbandry development
    1997 1998 1999 2000
Number of cattle and poultry on all categories of farm at the end of the year
Cattle Thousand head





including cows Thousand head





Pigs Thousand head





Sheep and goats Thousand head





Poultry Thousand head





Cattle and poultry productivity in agricultural enterprises

Milk yield per cow Kg





Average egg production per hen Pieces





Average annual wool yield per sheep Kg





Average live weight of one head sold for slaughter on agricultural enterprises

Cattle Kg





Pigs Kg





Sheep and goats Kg





Offspring output per 100 dams in agricultural enterprises

Calves Head





Piglets Head





Lambs and kids Head





Livestock deaths in agricultural enterprises in percent to herd rotation

Cattle Percent





Pigs Percent





Sheep and goats Percent





There is a decrease in meat and meat foods production. The same applies to milk production and its resources for industrial processing (Tables 8, 9).

Table 8. Production and consumption of the main foodstuff per capita
    1997 1998 1999 2000


Meat dressed weight Kg





Milk Kg





Eggs Pieces






Meat dressed weight Kg





Milk Kg





Eggs Pieces





Apart from the decrease in consumption of animal products there is concern about inequality of consumption level in regions caused by lack of efficient organizational and material infrastructure connecting producing and consuming regions. Very often redistribution is blocked by local authorities, prohibiting food exports, which causes high differentiation of prices between regions.

International trade

Up to 2000 the decrease in export-import operation of agro-industrial complex of Russia was at a stable rate (Table 9).

Table 9. Import of main goods by agro-industrial complex of Russia
    1997 1998 1999 2000
Agricultural production - total Million dollars





Meat Thousand tons





Poultry meat Thousand tons





Fresh fish. frozen Thousand tons





Milk Thousand tons





Butter Thousand tons





At the same time, after three years of decrease, export of main goods of agroindustrial complex tends to increase (Table 10).

Table 10. Export of main goods of agro-industrial complex of Russia
    1997 1998 1999 2000
Agricultural production - total Million dollars 1407.1




Meat Thousand tons





Poultry meat Thousand tons





Fresh fish. frozen Thousand tons





Milk Thousand tons





Butter Thousand tons





Oil Thousand tons





Grain Thousand tons





Flour and groats Thousand tons





Oil-producing crops Thousand tons





Sugar Thousand tons





Spirit Million dollars





Vodka Million dollars





Cigarettes Million dollars





Tobacco Million dollars





Chemical fertilizers Thousand tons





Herbicides Thousand tons





Skin Million dollars





Fur/fluff raw materials Million dollars





Wool Thousand tons





Cotton fibre Thousand tons





As far as fodder is concerned the tendency is the same (Table 11).

Table 11. Fodder import - export


Name Unit





export import export import export import export import
1201 Soybean crushed and non-crushed
  Total t









Incl. CIS countries t









1208 Flour and cake from seeds or oil-producing crops (apart from mustard)
  Total t 10208 60150 7310 49024 - - - -
Incl. CIS countries t 591 26380 8 4480 - - - -

* internal economic affair

Agrarian policy in external trade of agricultural production in Russia is run according to Federal laws "State regulation of external economic affairs" (1995); "Customs tariff" (1993 with additions from 1995 and 1997); "Measures on protection of economic interests of Russian Federation on realization of external merchandise trade" (1998); as well as Russian Federation Presidential Decrees; regulations and directions of the Government of the Russian Federation.

These standard documents allowed:

- protection of Russian economy and individual subjects of Russian Federation from unfavourable influence of foreign competition;

- provide conditions for Russia’s efficient integration into the world economy;

- support the country’s purchasing balance by goods import regulation;

- promote Russian goods on the world market.

Regulation of agricultural production external trade is done by tariff, non-tariff and combined measures. Tariff measures imply stated level of customs duty for imported and exported goods, which defends the country’s economic interests. Non-tariff measures (mainly different restrictions and inhibitory actions on import and export) are implemented by means of Russian Federation Presidential Decrees or federal laws. Combined measures - quotes on import and export.

Production of food (oat) units was over 79,000,000 tons per year in 1986-1990.


The most important landforms in Russia are plains, which occupy more than 1180 million ha (70.4% of the country). The relief of the plains is complicated depending on composition of rock deposits as well as denudation and accumulation processes. Most of the plains are at an altitude of less than 300 metres. In East Siberia and in the Far East the altitude of plain territories is between 300-600 metres. About half of the East European plain, the biggest part of the West Siberia plain and the northern part of the Far East are flat. Undulating slopes represent most of the East Siberia plain.

Mountains are the landform ranking second in Russia, most of them are below 1,000 m. Mountain areas comprise the Alpine-Gimalay belt, Tian-Shan up-lifting belt, the Middle and East Siberian Mountain highlands and the Pacific Ocean mountain belt. Plateau landforms are widely developed in Eastern Siberia and the Far East. They were formed as a result of relief levelling (denudation) during long-term periods. Undulating (5-8 %) and slightly undulating (2-5 %) relief is widespread on plateau landforms.

Soil information is based on a simplified version of the "Soil Map of Russian Federation" at scale 1:2,500,000 with classification according to national "Classification and diagnostics of the soils of the U.S.S.R." (1977) and the revised legend of the Soil Map of the World (1988). Figure 3 illustrates the Digital Soil Database for Russia at scale 1:500,000 (FAO, 1999).

russiafig3.jpg (24799 bytes)

russiafig3a.jpg (12899 bytes)

Figure 3

Two main soil types of the territory are Podzols and Gleysols, which occupy 22 and 16 percent of the total land area, respectively. Practically 80 percent of the country is under the dominant influence of cold and humid soil forming environments. 44 percent of the country is in continuous permafrost regions. Wetlands (221,000,000 ha), wet tundra (253,000,000 ha) and boreal coniferous forest are formed under conditions of excessive moisture.

The most agriculturally valuable major soil grouping - Chernozems - occupies about 94,000,000 ha, or less than 6 percent of the land area. Four major soil groupings also favourable for agriculture are Fluvisols, Greezems, Phaeozems and Kastanozems. Together they occupy about 160,000,000 ha, or approximately 10 percent of the land.

The main soil order associated with the taiga is soddy-podzolic soil (Podzoluvisols). Acid brownzems and sod-brownzems (Dystric and Gelic Cambisoils) are found in the Siberian part of the region. Flat interfluves are usually waterlogged, with predomination of podzolic peaty and peat boggy soils (Gleyic Podzoluvisols and Histosols, respectively).

Podzoluvisols occupy 207,400,000 ha, which corresponds to 12.4 percent of the soil cover in Russia. Podzoluvisols show some features of Podzols (a strongly bleached horizon) and of Luvisols (clay accumulation). These soils are well differentiated by texture and total composition, the general pattern of sesquioxides and clay fraction distribution is eluvio-illuvial. Podzoluvisols have an argic B horizon with an irregular or broken upper boundary resulting from deep tonguing of the E into the B horizon. The reaction is acid, with the pH increasing downward. The humus content is 3-7 percent in the humus horizon (5-12 cm), with noticeable decreasing downwards (0.2-0.5 percent in the E horizon). The typical properties are as follows: CEC changes in the profile depend on humus and clay fraction distribution; the soils are base-unsaturated, aluminium and hydrogen are common in the exchangeable complex. Mineralogical, granulometric and chemical composition are inherited or strongly connected with parent material properties. For example, residually calcareous sod-podzolic soils, which are formed from carbonate rocks, have a neutral or even slightly alkaline reaction in Bt/BtC horizons.

Gleyic Podzoluvisols and Histosols are formed on slow-drained terrain, characterized by seasonal surface waterlogging, or in relief depressions with relatively high ground water levels (flat plains, shallow depressions, river valleys and terraces, correlate to high and low moors). Flat and weakly dissected vast territory of the West Siberia lowland is a swampy plain, with waterlogging predomination within the south taiga zone. Gleyic Podzols are formed from sand and loamy sand parent material under excessive ground moistening on large alluvial and fluvio-glacial plains (polesye) in the taiga-forest zone.

Grey forest soils are formed as a result of specific soil processes under forest steppe vegetation. Based on difference in darkness and thickness of the humus horizon and expression of podzolized AhE or EB horizons, this soil group was subdivided on three sub-units: dark-grey (Haplic Greezems), grey (Haplic Greezems) and light-grey (Eutric Podzoluvisols). The grey forest soil group has the following profile:

O - forest litter horizon;

Ah - grey horizon of humus accumulation;

AhE (EB) - eluvial horizon with humus accumulation;

B - illuvial horizon.

The AhE (EB) horizon has a fine sub-angular structure with bleached fine material and humic bright cutans on ped faces (the last feature is usually absent in the forest-steppe of Central Siberia). Carbonates appear usually deeper than 1.5-2 m in various forms of accumulation. The humus content is the biggest in dark grey soils (5-12 percent in the Ah, with calcium-humate composition). Soil organic matter (SOM) stock in these soils ranges from 100-150 in light-grey soils up to 300 t/ha in dark-grey soils. Humus content decrease drastically after clear-cutting and during the subsequent cultivation. The reaction is acid to slightly acid in the topsoil of light grey and grey soils and close to neutral in the topsoil of dark grey soils. pH values become mostly acid in the lower part of the Ah or in AhE horizons, change to slightly alkaline downwards for soils with carbonates or neutral. The sum of exchangeable bases is 10-15 cmol(+)kg-1 for light grey soils and 25-45 cmol(+)kg-1 for dark grey soils. Base saturation is 70-95 percent, some exchangeable H or Al may be present in the upper horizons.

The distinctive features of grey forest soils are the accumulation of calcium, potassium and phosphorus in the topsoil as a result of biological accumulation processes. Properties of light grey soils closely correlate with those of Eutric Podzoluvisols and of dark grey forest soils - to chernozems. Soil cover exists as soil sequences - regular alternations, mostly due to meso-relief. The typical feature of the northern forest steppe is more intensive manifestation of the podzolic process in the upper slope positions. Interfluves are considered as the area of light grey forest soils predomination. Grey forest soils are common on the mid-slopes and dark grey soils - at the foot slopes with participation of groundwaters in their genesis. Sod-gleys (Umbric Gleysols) and meadow-boggy soils (Mollic Gleysols) are formed in depressions with seasonal surface waterlogging, under meadow and meadow-shrub vegetation. Within the southern part of region dark grey forest soils are situated in watersheds or on slopes alternating with Luvic Chernozems. Semi-hydromorphic soils are represented by meadow-chernozemic (Haplic Phaeozems) and meadow soils (Umbric Gleysols). The influence of more continental climate features is related with decreasing the thickness of Ah horizon and additional SOM and exchangeable base accumulation in the profile of grey forest soils.

Leached and typical chernozems (Luvic and Haplic Chernozems) are formed under grass steppes and meadows, which have net primary production (NPP) in the range 20-30 t/ha, with root biomass predomination (65-75 percent). The annual detrital losses amount to 50-55 percent of NPP, or twice more than litter fall of deciduous forests. Forest steppe chernozems have periodically percolated water regime, when leaching usually occurs once in ten years. Abundance of plant debris, enriched with nutrients (Ca, K, N) and absence of regular leaching during the time when decomposition processes are the most active favours nutrient accumulation in the upper horizons.

Periodical alternation of the wet and dry periods serves as a natural regulator of meso- and macro organisms activity and promotes formation of different end products of humification, including recalcitrant organic-mineral complexes. Humus accumulation is the leading soil forming process (mostly as a calcium-humate complex) and the characteristic feature of chernozems is a mollic A horizon with a moist chroma of 2 or less, which have a granular or subangular-granular structure. The reaction is neutral. The soils have high cation exchange capacity, base saturated (with the exchangeable Ca predomination). The distribution in the profile of clay and sesquoxides is undifferentiated. The lower parts of the Ah or AhB horizons are effervescent. General soil profile perturbation by burrowing fauna is a common feature. Typical chernozems can be considered as a central subtype of chernozem, with the most characteristic features of these soils.

Typical chernozems have the following profile: Ah-AhBk-BCk-Ck.

The humus horizons are subdivided into 2 parts: the Ah (45- 50 cm) is dark grey or black. They have a granular or subangular-granular structure. The AhBk has a browner colour with larger peds. The Ah+AhBk thickness is in the range of 70-130 cm. Native soils have O upper layer of plant detritus. The Bk horizon has a maximum of secondary carbonates. Humus content is 5-12 percent in the Ah with gradual decreasing downwards, SOM stock varies from 600 to 700 t/ha. Calcareous neoformations appear in the form of meld, mycelia, and veins, and below 2 m depth, as loess dolls.

Leached chernozems (Luvic Chernozems) are formed in colder climate compared with Haplic Chernozems. They are distinguished from typic chernozems by more pronounced differentiation of the humus fractional composition and deeper effervescence. It usually starts 30-40 cm deeper the lower boundary of the Ah horizon, resulting in formation of the carbonate-free Bt horizon. These soils do not have a carbonate horizon if formed on non-calcareous parent rocks. The Bt horizon has features of clay and sesquioxides illuviation, a dark brown colour, a dark cutans on the ped faces. The soil reaction in the Bt horizon is neutral or slightly acid.

Podzolized chernozems (Luvic Phaeozems) can be identified as an intergrade between chernozems and grey forest soil types. They have more pronounced eluvio-illuvial differentiation of the soil profile comparing with leached chernozems. The humus horizon is subdivided into 2 sub-horizons based on colour and structure, the lower part of it (the AhB horizon) has abundant bleached mineral particles cover the ped faces. The Bt horizon has weak but consistent features of clay illuviation. The thickness of the non-calcareous and humus-free layer is not less than 40-50 cm. The calcareous Bca horizon has carbonate accumulations in the form of veins, often segregated as white patches.

The morphological features of chernozems are subject to strong fluctuations in accordance with climatic regimes.

Mild climatic conditions of East Europe with a long warm periods accompanied by frequent precipitation in summer and also winter periods (snow, wet snow and snow with rain) favour high quantity of the biomass returned by plants to the soil and the intensive decomposition processes. The soils usually freeze up to 40 cm during one-two months. The soil formation is associated with the preferential upward water movement as well as high amplitudes of the soil solutions translocation. The thick mollic horizon (up to 1 m) is formed with moderate SOM accumulation (the humus content is 3-6 percent). SOM stock in these soils ranges from 300 to 600 t/ha.

In more cold and dry climate conditions of East Siberia the soils of the forest steppe region are distinguished from the East European chernozems by thicker mollic horizon with the humus content 6-12 percent and tongued lower boundary. SOM stock ranges from 300 to 700 t/ha (the highest values of soil organic C accumulation in the world). The soils are characterized by deep freezing (up to 1 m) during winter. Leaching takes place only in wet summers.

Low temperatures of West and Middle Siberia lead to more rapid and deep soil freezing (up to 2 m) and slow spring thawing. These soils have a shallow humus horizon (25-45 cm) with a well-expressed tongued or pocket-like lower boundary as a result of formation of frost wedges, which have been filled subsequently by the mollic horizon material. Low winter temperatures favour humus accumulation in the Ah horizon, with noticeable decreasing downward. As a result, SOM stock rarely exceeds 500 t/ha. the calcic horizon is a common feature, but it lies deeper comparedg with East Europe chernozems. The severe continental climate of West Siberia with negative mean annual temperatures, harsh winters with little snow, low annual precipitation and late summer temperature maximum gives rise to a specific soil moisture regime: dry spring and early summer and wet late summer. The latter period is characterized by a periodical leaching. The West Siberian chernozems (Glossic Chernozems) have a thinner humus horizon (45-55 cm) as compared to the other chernozems. The humus content (in the Ah) is 4-6 percent, with noticeable decreasing downward. The effervescence boundary is distinct. Calcareous accumulations are in the form of patches, veins and white soft carbonate spots. Soluble salts are not present in the profile as a result of periodical leaching and late summer precipitation maximum.

The main features of soil formation in the steppe region are nonpercolative water regime with leaching processes only in the upper horizons, carbonate accumulation at some depth (excluding chernozems which was formed in monsoon climate), less humus accumulation compared with the forest steppe soils, a weak solonetzic features in automorphic soils inherited from solonetzic parent material. In the northern part of the steppe zone ordinary chernozems (Haplic Chernozems) predominate, more southern analogues are southern chernozems (Calcic Chernozems).

Ordinary chernozems (Haplic Chernozems) of the European part of the steppe region have a distinct upper humus layer with a well-defined granular structure of several orders. The humus content in the upper Ah horizon is 5-8 percent, the reaction is neutral. The cation exchange capacity is about 40-55 cmol(+)kg-1, the soils are base saturated. Effervescence appears in the humus horizon (the Ah or AhB), white soft carbonate spots in the B horizon and soluble salts and gypsum at a depth 300 cm. The distribution of either the clay fraction or the sesquioxides in the soil profile is undifferentiated.

Southern chernozems (Calcic Chernozems), which occupy 26,500 ha, or 1.6 percent of the land area of the country, are situated in the south of the steppe region, in dry grass steppes. The humus content (in the Ah) is 3-6 percent, that is lower compared with ordinary chernozems. They have a thinner humus horizon and the cation exchange capacity is 35-40 cmol (+) kg-1. The reaction is neutral or slightly alkaline. Some features of solonetz processes, such as a prismatic block angular structure, are present as a result of the increased mineralization of the soil solution. Effervescence begins in the Ah horizon or on the soil surface. Carbonate concretions are in the form of white soft spots. Gypsum and soluble salts appear at a depth of 150-300 cm. In the dry steppe dark-chestnut and chestnut soils (Haplic Kastanozems) are zonal automorphic soils. This soil unit occupies 17,300,000 ha, which corresponds to 1.0 percent of the area of the country.

Chestnut soils have the following profile: Ah-AhB-Bkc-BCkc,y-Cy. The Ah horizon has a light-brown colour, crumbly structure. In virgin and fallow soils, weak fine platy structure is common on the surface. The transitional layer is subdivided into two parts: the AhB is brownish and unevenly collared by humus, compact. It is underlain by the Bkc horizon, which has more compact consistency, prismatic-crumbly structure and mottled colour. The Bk horizon has humus spots or local humus cutans on ped faces, as well as white soft calcium carbonate spots. The thickness of Ah+AhB+Bkc horizons decreases from 45 cm in the European part of the region to 25 cm in East Siberia. The BCkc,y is an illuvial carbonate horizon with abundant carbonate spots and some gypsum. The lower boundary of humus cutans reaches this horizon. In some profiles it is possible to subdivide the BCkc,y into two horizons. The lower part of the BCkc,y have a lack of humus illuvation features, has yellowish-brown colour and abundant CaCO3 patches and spots. The Cy horizon lies at a depth of 150-200 cm. It contains considerable quantities of gypsum and, usually, soluble salts. This horizon is less compact and has more moisture as compared with the upper horizon. The humus content is usually in the range from 2.2-3.2 percent (arable soils) to 4 percent (virgin soils) in the Ah of clay and clay loam Kastanozems and 1.5-3 percent in more sandy soils. The CEC is 20-30 cmol (+) kg-1 and exchangeable sodium forms 1.5-5 percent of CEC. The soil reaction changes from slightly alkaline or neutral (pH 7.2-7.4) in the upper horizons to alkaline (pH 8.2-8.5) in the lower ones.

In the north of the dry steppe region, where precipitation amount is higher, dark chestnut soils (Haplic Kastanozems) are formed under dry steppe vegetation. They differ from the chestnut soils in a more pronounced Ah horizon (Ah+AhB+Bkc horizons are 35-50 cm thick) and in increased humus content. The humus content of the Ah horizon varies within the limits of 3.2 (arable soils)- 5 percent (virgin soils) in clay and clay loams and 2.5-4 percent in sandy loams and loamy sands. Effervescence usually appears from 45-50 cm. Gypsum and soluble salt start from a depth of 2 m. The soil reaction changes from neutral in the upper horizons to slightly alkaline and alkaline in the lower ones. The CEC is 30-35 cmol (+) kg-1. The exchangeable cations are mainly represented by Ca2+ or Mg2+.

Meadow chestnut soils (Haplic Phaeozems) are dispersed among chestnut and light chestnut soils. They are formed in relief depressions (flat ditches, gullies, micro-depressions) on slow-draining terrain (flat plains, river terraces, pre-mountain deluvial areas). They are formed under influence of excessive surface wetting, sometimes connected with high ground water table (2.5-5(7) m). Extra-water permits plant community of the herb species-grass-small bushes to exist as a continuous cover. The morphological properties correlate with those of the meadow chernozem soils. They differ from Kastanozems in more favourable water regime, in a more thick the Ah horizon, in a high humus content (4-6 percent, sometimes more than 8 percent in the Ah that gradually decreases with depth). The Ah horizon has sod in the upper layer and a dark-grey colour. Exchangeable sodium occupies not more than 2 percent of the CEC.

The characteristic feature of the dry steppe is high soil heterogeneity (soil complexes). Soil complexes represent alteration of small (5-30 m2) spots of different interdependent soil types or subtypes, linked to the micro relief elements. The latter is connected with redistribution of scarce water reserves between the different parts of micro-catenas. Soil heterogeneity has a tendency to increase southward. The most complex soil cover in the region is in lowlands (Caspian and West Siberia lowlands) or depressions (Manych and Tourgay depressions). The agricultural value of soil complex components may differ, but the potential land utilization determined by the properties of the soil complex as a whole.


Russia's far northern location and harsh climate causes most of the area to be unsuitable for crop production. Most rainfed agricultural activities are located between 40 degrees N and 60 degrees N latitude. The transitional seasons of autumn and spring here are short, creating a brief window of opportunity for crop seeding and harvest. Higher latitudes are associated with long, cold winters, and short, hot summers that limit the growing season. The distribution of cultivated land, perennial crops, cultivated forage/grazing as well as forest and natural vegetation is shown on Figure 4. This figure reproduces a generalized version of the map "Land categories of the USSR" at a scale 1:4,000,000 with division of land use into 6 top level classes. This map complements the map "Agricultural regionalization of the USSR" at a scale 1:4,000,000 (Figure 5), which depicts regions with the different agricultural intensity as well as farming specialization.

russiafig4.jpg (50721 bytes)

Figure 4

russiafig5.jpg (49135 bytes)

Figure 5

In this brief review the representation of the agricultural regions relies on the map "Soil-geographical regionalization of the USSR", considering agricultural use within natural agricultural regions. A considerable spatial variability of climatic conditions in Russia such as large annual, daily, and day-to-day ranges in temperature, relative humidity, and rainfall are accounted for identification the main natural agricultural zones based on temperature and precipitation ranking. Mean January and July air temperatures for the territory of Russia are shown in Figures 6 and 7. The amount of precipitation, growing season and land resources are connected with the type and intensity of agriculture in a particular region.

russiafig6.jpg (17514 bytes)

Figure 6. Source: Lydolph 1990

russiafig7.jpg (15698 bytes)

Figure 7. Source: Lydolph 1990

Based on the sum of active annual temperatures two main agricultural climatic zones are identified. They include all diversity of the main natural agricultural regions to characterize regularities and distribution of the natural vegetation as well as Precipitation/Evaporation ratio over the country. The territory of the each region was characterized based on lowland soil provinces division, and on climate regimes, the soils cover zonal features, the percentages of land use, types of predominant agricultural crops and husbandry as well as cropland improvement and reclamation.

Cold tundra - north taiga (boreal forest) zone exists as a continuous belt across the high latitudes of Eurasia. The south boundary coincides with the annual sum of average daily temperatures 400 - 600o C for the period with T>10o C (the sum of active temperatures). Winters are harsh, arctic air masses predominate during the whole year. Permafrost, cryogenic soil features are spread throughout the entire territory. Mean annual temperature ranges are -10 to -14 C, with mean temperatures -25 to -30 C in winter and less than -5 C in summer. The frost-free period is 12- 14 days in a year, annual precipitation is about 150 mm, mainly as snow, including the summer period. Harsh climatic conditions restrict agriculture to the sub-arctic zone of the agroregion, where reindeer breeding remains the most important activity on vast tundra territories. Lichen tundra in winter and tundra with predominating mosses, sedge-mosses and dwarf birch thicket in summer are the main types of pastures suitable for reindeer. Common adverse soil phenomena are low intensity of biochemical processes, lack of nutrients, acidity, unfavourable air and heat regime.

Due to climatic conditions, the development of farming, dairy cattle husbandry and poultry would require large capital investments. Sparse agricultural farms, represented mainly by glasshouse enterprises with vegetable production are situated around big cities-industrial centres. Perennial grazing of tundra soils is an effective practice, as it is less time-consuming and a more successful technology compared to fodder crop growing.

In the north taiga farming is also constrained by climate. Agriculture is mainly restricted to individual farms of industrial enterprises or to private vegetable gardens and subsistence farming. Commercial forestry is the main activity in the economy of this region. Crop and cattle husbandry is mainly practiced to meet the local needs of the sparsely populated territory. Highly developed agriculture is only around big cities.

Moderate climate zone is characterized by a wide range of environmental conditions varying from the middle taiga (boreal forest) in the north to the desert in the south of this belt, as a result of combined influence of maritime air masses and the vast territory with climate continental in natural.

Climate aridity increases gradually southward. Continental climate features are present to a very small extent in the western part of Russia and quite pronounced in Trans-Baikal and Pre-Amur, with changing winters from no-snow mild to harsh with thick snow cover. The sum of active (>10o C) annual temperatures range from 1600 to 4000o C. The belt represents intensive crop and cattle rearing zone, with predomination of pastoral cattle rearing and restricted crop production zones southward. The zone, which encompasses the biggest part of Russia, can be subdivided into the following natural regions: taiga (middle and south), forest steppe, steppe, dry steppe, semi-desert and desert.

South taiga region is situated between 56-58 degrees (50 degrees in the west part) to 60 degrees northern latitude, with the south and north bounds coinciding with the sum of active annual temperatures 160- 2500o C and 1400-1600o C, respectively. Climate is temperate to moderate continental in the west, severe continental to very severe continental in Siberia and monsoon in Far East. Mean temperature range is -2 to -32o C in January and 16 to - 2 o C in June (the coldest and the warmest month, cons.) Annual precipitation ranges are 500 - 700 and 350 - 500 mm in the European and Asian parts of the region, which according to the ratio of precipitation/evaporation can be classified as excessively wet or wet.

The climate favours natural coniferous (gymnosperm) tree domination with deciduous species or mixed forest (coniferous and deciduous species) with a diversified herb layer. In European Russia fir (Picea abies) and oak (Quercus) are dominant with hazelnut (Corylus avellana) in under storey. Pine woods or mixture of oak and pine species are typical for light soils. In Ural and across West Siberia birch (Betula) and aspen (Populus tremula) are common components of deciduous or mixed (larch and cedar species) forests.

Sufficient precipitation and satisfactory temperature regimes cause this area to be more suitable for crop production. Common crops in the European part of this region are vegetables and potatoes, cereals, sugar beet, hops, tobacco, fruit crops. The Asian part of the agroregion has a comparatively shorter growing period and a less favourable temperature regime as a result of a more continental climate. West and East Siberia are regions of highly developed meat-dairy husbandry and crop farming. Grain (mainly spring wheat) -fallow rotations are common. Fodder crops, natural grasslands and hay lands are of great importance. In the surroundings of the urban centres there is very intensive agricultural production of vegetables and potatoes as well as fruit crops and berry shrubs. The agricultural sector of the Far East has been mainly developed around Khanka lake, in the vicinity of large cities, and along the Trans-Siberian railway line. Agriculture has specialized in fisheries, hunting locally reindeer herding, dairy cattle husbandry. The main crops are cereals (wheat, rice (5.2 percent of cultivated land), soybean (15 percent), buckwheat) and potatoes.

South taiga agroregion is an intensive crop and cattle rearing zone, arable lands occupy 17 percent of the total area. The agroregion has a diversified agricultural land use: dairy and meat husbandry, potato cultivation, intensive cultivation of wheat, barley and other grain crops, intensive vegetable cultivation (for example, near the Oka river), flax and hemp (Cannabis sativa) cultivation. Potato cultivation for commercial and non-commercial use is typical for this region. This agroregion have the biggest area available for expansion of agricultural lands, including those for intensive haymaking and livestock grazing, comparing with the other natural zones, but high expenditures to improve soil through reclamation are necessary. Periodical liming and high rates of mineral and organic fertilizers are necessary for intensive crop growing.

Forest steppe region is situated in the centre of Eurasia, southward of the taiga zone. The area is situated between 43-45 (a south boundary in the Pre-Caucasian steppes) to 50-51 north, with 45 east as a west boundary. Climate is moderately continental to severely continental, with increasing aridity southward and eastward and continental climate features in the east direction. Precipitation deficit is a common feature of the territory (the range of precipitation/evaporation ratio is 0.7 -1 and 0.5-0.66 in the northern and the southern part of the region). The range of active annual temperatures sum is a characteristic of great variability: from 2400-3200 to 400-1800o C. Mean temperature range in January is -4 to -25o C and the growing season is 188 to 93 days, diminishing from the west to the east. Mean summer temperature are quite close within the zone: 18 to 20o C. Geographical features of the West Siberian part of the region are severe winters, lower precipitation and more continental climate comparing with the European part. There is periodical precipitation deficit connected with the transitional position of the region between the wet and dry districts. Deep gullies and valleys are common, especially in the European part of the region. These strongly affect soil erosion processes and there is substantial surface water re-distribution between the different parts of mezo- and micro-catenas. In Asia the main terrain components are the West Siberian lowland (the southern part) and undulating sloping territories of Altai and Sayany mountains.

Agricultural activities are well developed, mainly based on intensive crop growing (cropland accounts for 71 percent of the area used as arable in Russia), meat-dairy cattle breeding, pig and sheep breeding, poultry. The region produces cereals (winter and spring wheat, rye, and corn), grain legumes, industrial crops (flax, Cannabis sativa, sugar beet, tobacco), vegetables, and fodder crops, fruits and berries. The natural vegetation before the intensive cultivation period is supposed to have been diverse: grass steppe was alternating with meadows composed of numerous steppe herb species, groves of deciduous species (broad-leaved in the European part of the region with predomination of Quercus and accompanying lime (Tilia), Fraxinus, Ulmus, Acer platanoides). In the Ural zone, birch (Betula) and larch-broadleaved species were predominate. Birch and aspen (Populus) were a common component of deciduous forests with tall herb layer across the West Siberian lowland. Soil cover is represented by grey forest soils (Haplic Greezems), chernozems podzolized (Luvic Chernozems), chernozems leached (Luvic Chernozems), chernozems typical (Haplic Chernozems) and meadow chernozem soils (Gleyic Chernozems). These soils extend as a continuous belt from Carpathian mountains to the Yenisey river, more to the east they exist as patches ("islands") allocated to slopes of the Middle Siberian highland landforms or intermountain depressions of East Siberia. Main parent materials are loess, loess-like loams and heavy loams. Clay fraction content in the parent material of the European part of the region has a tendency to increase eastward; the west slopes of the Pre-Volga upland represent a boundary of loams and fine loams.

The type of agriculture development as well as differentiation in intensity within the region is mainly connected with diversified climate and soil conditions. Agricultural lands in the western European part of the agroregion account for 20-80 percent, the fractions of hay land and pastures are in the range 4-12 percent and 3-7 percent, respectively. The cultivation of sugar beets and grain crops have a main importance, with highly intensive production of such crops as winter wheat, corn, sunflower, hoop, potatoes, cucurbitaceous crops and fruits concentrated in collective farms. In the southern-west areas of European Russia cultivation of seed fruits, grapes, vegetables and locally tobacco is well developed. Sometimes catch crops are grown in crop rotations. Among soil degradation processes soil erosion is common. Local farming systems include measures aimed at protecting soil from erosion: cross-slope tillage, decreasing runoff, snow storage.

Agricultural lands in the central European part of the northern and southern forest steppe account for 47 and 72 percent, respectively. The fractions of hay land and pastures are in the range 3-6 percent. Grain crops are mostly cultivated. Local climatic conditions are favourable for growing spring and winter cereals, industrial crops (sunflower, sugar beet), fodder crops, fruits and berries. Soil protection from erosion, soil moisture protection measures and artificial afforestation has a primary importance, especially for highland plain territories. Reclamation of meadow chernozemic solonetzic soils (Phaeosems Luvic) and solods (Planosols Eutric) and prevention of secondary sodic salinisation in irrigation agriculture is important for the Oka-Don lowland.

Agricultural lands in the forest steppe zone of the Volga-Ural interfluvial account for 46-58 percent. The hay land and pastures are in the range 5-6 and 5-11 percent, respectively. Grain crops cultivation has the main importance, with limited possibility of winter cereals growing due to severe winter conditions. Natural conditions are favourable for grain legumes, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beet cultivation. Soil protection from water erosion and soil moisture protection measures, seeding of perennial grasses and cross-slope tillage have a primary importance, as well as local wind erosion protection (e.g. in Bashkiria).

Cropland accounts for 15 and up to 36 percent of the northern and southern forest steppe, situated between Ural Mountains and the Ob River. Hay lands account for 10-12 percent and pastures - for 7-15 percent of the total area. Dairy-meat husbandry and grain corn (mainly spring wheat) growing are practiced. Flax cultivation is of great importance. Local farming practices include measures for water accumulation in soil, such as conservation tillage; protection from deep freezing based on snow storage, chemical reclamation of solonetzic soils, artificial drainage of boggy soils. Seeding of perennial grasses in crop rotations is of great importance.

Cropland, hay land and pastures account for 41, 10 and 10 percent of the agroregion, situated between the Ob and the Yenisey rivers, mainly concentrated in the southern part of the forest steppe. Grain growing is common. Meat -dairy husbandry is practiced. Spring wheat, sugar beet, sunflower, flax, potatoes and vegetables are of great importance. Soil-protective measures include soil water accumulation, protecting soil from erosion, local reclamation in the mining areas (e.g. Kuzbass).

The forest steppe east of the Yenisey River (including the Far East steppe area) is in patches ("islands") allocated to the southern part of the Krasnoyarsk Krai and Irkutsk Region. It is the province of the very intensive production of grain as well as intensive livestock dairy and wool specialization. Soil water and heat protection measures are of great importance. Winter erosion is a common feature in the pre-mountains areas. The region is suited to the early maturing cultivars.

Steppe region is situated to the south of the forest steppe zone and exists as a continuous belt from the west Russian border to Altai Mountains. More to the east it have a patchy occurrence on the slopes of inter-mountain depressions reaching the west slopes of Big Khainag ridge. Climate is warm and dry, P/E coefficient is 0.44-0.47. Typical climate features are a regular moisture deficit of vegetation periods, quite close mean summer temperatures (20-24C in the western part and 17-21C in the eastern part of the region), distinct difference of mean winter temperatures (-2 to -10C in the western part and up to -24-27C in the eastern part of the region). Range of active annual temperatures sum is a characteristic of great variability: from 2300-3500 to 1500-2300o C. The growing season is 180 to 97 days, diminishing eastwards.

The natural vegetation is subdivided into 2 subzones: herbaceous-sod-forming grass and sod-forming grass steppe communities. In the former subzone xerophytic species are quite common growth forms. Bunch grasses, such as Stipa species and sod grasses, commonly Festuca are dominant. Associated species are herbs, Carex, rhizomatous grasses. Blue-green alga and lichens are common in the ground layer. A quasi-dormant period is typical for many species and their narrow upright stem reduces heat-gain in the hot summers. The southern sod-forming grass communities are even more xerophytic, with the increasing role of low-growing shrubs and spring ephemers. Blue-green alga and lichens are quite common in the ground layer. Bunch grasses can form an open canopy. Perennial grasses can remain dormant in the hot summer period. The differentiation of dominant natural steppe species have a distinct eastwards trend. Net primary production (NPP) of steppe natural communities is in the range 20-30 t/ha, with a slight shoot biomass predomination (55 percent). Forests are few (8.6 percent of the steppe area) on watersheds, mainly allocated to valleys and flat bottom valley (balka) slopes.

At present approximately 80 percent of the steppe is cropland.

The southern area of the European Russia steppe zone includes the western and the central parts of Pre-Caucasian steppes with fertile soils and favourable climatic conditions. The cropland is up to 90 percent of that area. This territory has a very intensive agriculture. Hay lands account for only 3 percent and pastures - for about 11 percent of the area. A highly developed agricultural sector includes production of grain crops, sugar beet, sunflower, tobacco, rice, grape and fruits. Animal husbandry specializes in dairy, beef and pigs Irrigated farming is important for intensive cropping. Application of high fertilizer rates provides a considerable crop return. Water accumulated in the soil is of primary importance in the northern part of this zone. Wind erosion is common.

The north of the agroregion (the south part of Middle Russian Upland) has a colder and more continental climate with lower winter mean temperatures comparing with the southern part. The cropland is 60 - 70 percent of the area. Hay lands account for only 2 percent and pastures - for 18 percent of the area. A highly developed agricultural sector has specialization in cultivation of winter wheat, corn, sunflower, legumes, industrial crops (sugar beet, tobacco), vegetables and cucurbitaceous crops. Animal husbandry specializes in dairy and beef, pigs and fine fleeced pedigree sheep. Farm practices are oriented towards water conservation, water and wind erosion protection measures.

In the left bank of the Volga River and the pre-Ural area the climate becomes more severe, characterized by large temperature variations and irregular rainfall. Soil freezing may reach a metre deep. Cropland is about 50 percent of the area. Natural hay lands occupy less than 5 percent and pastures - about 25 percent of the area. Spring wheat and oil crops are the main crops. In animal husbandry dairy and beef breeding are well developed. Complex measures to protect soil from erosion and prevent moisture deficit are important in farm practice, such as forest belts, snow storage, conservation tillage, cropped and bare fallow.

In Trans-Ural (east of Ural to Altai mountains) with a severe continent climate, the depth of soil freezing reaches 200 cm, with a freezing period of about 5 months. The cropland is 55 percent of the area. Natural hay lands occupy less than 4 percent with the increased role of pastures - 30 percent of the area. The agriculture has specialized in grain crops (spring wheat, barley), oil crops, silage maize and fodder crops. Animal husbandry includes meat and dairy cattle and fine fleeced pedigree sheep rearing. Local soil-protection measures include water accumulation in soil, prevention of wind erosion, snow storage, introduction of bare and cropped fallow in crop rotations, chemical reclamation of solonetzic soils.

Dry steppe region is as a continuous wide belt from the West Pre-Caucasus to the Altai Mountains. Besides, it includes "islands" of chestnut soils within intermountain depressions of East Siberia. The main climatic feature of the region is decreasing precipitation and increasing evapotranspiration, as compared with the steppe region. Annual precipitation decreases from 350-400 in the west of the area to 200-300 mm in the east, P/E ratio ranging within 0.3-0.5. Changes of climatic conditions within the agroregion are the same as in the steppe zone. Average summer temperatures are quite close within the region: 20…24o C. Amplitudes of mean average temperature in January increase eastward: -3…3o C in Pre-Caucasus and -24…-27o C in Trans-Baikal, with the respective decrease of the growing season from 180…190 to 110…129 days and the mean active temperature sum from 3000-3500 to 1600-2000o C eastward. The next important feature of Trans-Baikal region is its monsoon type of precipitation distribution. Snow cover depth is small and because of strong winds in the eastern part of the region easily removed from the soil surface. Vegetation difference is determined by local changes of the climatic conditions and is closely connected with the soil heterogeneity in different provinces of the region.

A continuous cover of perennial grasses in the western part of the region, where Stipa and Festuca are predominant in the dry steppe communities is marked by the replacement of the dominant plants due to the climatic regimes altering along the eastward axis dry steppe communities in the eastern part of the region are composed typically of Stipa-Festuca-Artemisia.Artemisia is also not infrequent on the solonetz-like spots in the European part of the region. Artemisia -small-bunch grass dry steppe is typical in Tuva area, an open Caragana layer is also common in dry steppe communities. Trans-Baikal province has grass-Artemisia dry steppe communities with a Caragana bush layer; they form an open canopy and have poor species composition. Net primary production (NPP) is lower, than the steppe region, as a result of climate aridity, usually not more than 100 kg/ha, with rather distinct predomination of root biomass (85 percent). Annual input of nitrogen and plant ash elements with detrital and root losses amounts to 160 kg/ha.

The dry steppe region territory can be subdivided into three areas, based on the continental climatic features, the soil cover and the land use systems predominating.

The East-Pre-Caucasus province allocates to east slopes of the Stavropol plateau (Stavropol Krai, Kalmykia, Ingushetia, and Chechnya). Predominant landforms are defined as weakly undulating plain with shallow balkas (flat-bottom valleys). Absolute altitude range within 100-300 m. Parent materials are clay loam deluvial sediments of hard rocks. Moderate continental climate of the area has the following specific features: short and mild winter, almost snowless and a hot long summer. It is hard to find plots of unchanged natural vegetation which is supposed to have been represented by a continuous cover of perennial grasses and forbs, predominantly Festuca and Stipa. The soil cover is rather homogeneous and represented by dark chestnut and chestnut (Haplic Kastanozems) soils, excluding the south-eastern part of the province with the soil complex of solonetz (Haplic Solonetz), chestnut (Haplic Kastanozems) and solonetzic dark chestnut soils (Luvic Kastanozems). Soil freezing has been registered in the upper layer. Agricultural lands account for 49 percent. The fractions of hay land and pastures are about 10 and 35 percent. The crop sector specializes in wheat, oilseed and stone fruits, grapes. Agricultural practices are connected with water accumulation in soil, increased fertilizer rates, forest belts construction.

The Don province, between the Manych depression and the Volga River, includes Volgograd and Rostov Regions, and Kalmykia. The province has a moderate continental climate, drier and colder (the lower winter temperatures) compared with the previous province. Natural vegetation is dry steppe, composed typically by Festuca and Artemisia. The soil cover is represented by sequences of dark chestnut and chestnut (Haplic Kastanozems) soils of the interstream areas and solonetzic chestnut soils (Luvic Kastanozems) on the slopes. The participation of the solonetz (Haplic solonetz) soils in the complexes and manifestation of the solonetzic morphological features in the profiles of Kastanozems (compaction, prismatic structure) within the province is common at the foot slopes and in the valleys. The north of the province is intensively dissected, so soil erosion is widespread. Agricultural lands account for 52 percent - the highest fraction for the steppe region. Hay land and pastures are about 7 and 29 percent. Crops are mainly cereals. The necessary agricultural practices include water accumulation in soil, reclamation of solonetzic soils and soil-protective measures from erosion on elevated plains, highly dissected by a system of balkas and gullies. Irrigated agriculture has been developed, with rice, vegetables and cucurbitaceous crops.

In the Volga-Ural River interstream province (Saratov, Orenburg, Volgograd, Ural regions) the continentality of climate increases. Snow cover depth is small and as a result of strong winter winds is removed from the soil surface, limiting potential moisture recharge. Dry periods in June and July are accompanied by influxes of hot, dry air (air moisture below 15 percent) commonly known as sukhoveis. Adverse weather such as droughts, water deficit, hot, dry winds (sukhoveis), and winter freezes are common phenomena, making rainfed grain more marginal. Agricultural lands account for 41 percent of the province. The fractions of hay land and pastures are about 6 and 44 percent. The main crop is spring wheat. Animal husbandry includes meat and dairy cattle. Agricultural practices are connected with water accumulation in soil, chemical reclamation of the solonetz and solonetz-like soils, irrigation, and soil-protective measures from water and wind erosion.

In the Tuva and Trans-Baikal intermountain depressions the dry steppes zone has an absolute altitude range within 500…700-800…1200 m. Typical parent rocks are sandy loams, sandy gravel loams, sands and gravel sediments. The province has severe continental climate, with long winters, almost snowless. The mean winter temperatures are -18…-20 o C in Tuva and -24…-27o C in the Trans-Baikal area. The soils usually freeze to 2-3 m for 5-8 months. The mean summer temperature is 17-20 o C. Mean active temperature sum ranges within 1400-1900 in Tuva and 1600-2100o C in the Trans-Baikal area. Annual precipitation is 180-300 mm. Agriculture is mainly stock-raising: sheep and beef cattle, rearing of horses and camels. The agricultural productivity of these soils is limited mainly by adverse weather, water deficit for irrigation, stoniness and very broken terrain.

Semi desert and desert regions in East Europe as a belt within the north coastline of the Caspian Sea, bordering on Pre-Caucasus in the west. The region includes parts of Daghestan, Kalmykia, Ingushetia, Chechnya, Stavropol Krai, Volgograd and Astrakhan Regions. The Caspian lowland is a young accumulative plain, infilled with marine and continental late Quaternary sediments of alluvial or lacustrine origin. The monotonous topography was produced by the levelling accumulative effect of the sea transgressions, sometimes it is broken by shallow depressions and the "limans" - shallow elongated 1-12 km2 depressions 2-7 metres deep, whose provenance is related to the coastline. Elevations range within 48-50 m (the Yergeni foothills) and -26 to -28 m below sea level. Saline platy chocolate clays or sandy-loam sediments are the main parent materials. The province has a severe continental climate, with moderate cold winter, usually snowless or with small depth of the snow and a dry moderately hot summer, accompanied by sukhoveis and mist.

The soil and plant cover is highly heterogeneous. Development of different soil types is connected with plant communities. Light chestnut solonetzic soils (Luvic Kastanozems) on fine textured substrates under Artemisia and Festuca vegetation usually form soil complex with meadow chestnut soils (Haplic Phaeozems) under grass vegetation. Brown semi-desert (Haplic Calcisols) soils are widespread in the southern and south-east parts of the region. They are formed from coarse-textured parent material under Artemisia and Artemisia-Festuca vegetation. The latter soil unit occupies 1,700,000 ha, which corresponds to 0.105 percent of the land area of the country. The morphology of light chestnut soils and brown semi desert soils is almost the same so it is very hard to distinguish between them. Common quantitative criteria are low humus content (less than 1.5 percent), a shallower Ah horizon, higher position of the calcic and gypsic horizons. These soils usually form soil complexes with solonetz soils (Haplic Solonetz).

In the Volga-Ural River interstream province sandy sediments occupy large areas of the Caspian lowland. Solonchaks soils (Haplic and Gleyic Solonchaks) which are quite common, are formed around brackish lagoons, on un-flooded parts of salt lakes and low river terraces. This soil type occupies 980,000 ha, or 0.059 percent of the land of Russia.

Meadow soils (Eutric Fluvisols, Calcaric Fluvisols, and Mollic Gleysols), formed from alluvial deposits in the Volga, Terek, and Ural floodplains and in the Volga-Achtuba delta, have high fertility. Their distinct features among the semi-desert zonal soils favours intensive irrigated vegetable and cucurbitaceous crops cultivation, as well as rice and wheat. Gleyic features in the lower part of the profile are common. These soils are periodically flooded. Salinization of the middle and lower parts of the soil profile sometimes accompanies meadow features. These saline soils correlate with Salic Fluvisols or Mollic Gleysols. Agriculture has livestock based and includes meat and dairy cattle, fine fleeced pedigree sheep breeding. Arable land account only for 5 percent of the province. The fractions of hay land and pastures are 7 and 70 percent. Agricultural is limited to small areas of irrigated fields or depressions in mesorelief, including shallow limans, with extra-water accumulation during snow melting. Irrigated agriculture has been developed mainly in the western part of the region. Canal systems bring water from the Volga River. Mountain crop and cattle husbandry includes cattle rearing on the basis of natural grazing at different altitudes. Combination of different forms of agriculture, such as fruit growing, viticulture, vegetable growing, beef cattle rearing and sheep rearing is typical for one farm.


Specialized enterprises in animal husbandry production

In the pre-reform period (1970 - 1991) a great job was done to intensify animal husbandry. It was based on large specialized farms (complexes), constructed in different regions of the country, which had high technological level of production. Experience in implementation of modern technologies, accumulated there by other farms, influenced production development a lot, quality improvement and increase of economic efficiency.

Activity analysis of different sizes of animal husbandry complexes proves the high efficiency of large specialized enterprises. The biggest unit weight (75 percent) among dairy production complexes belonged to those for 800 - 1600 cows; they were characterized by high efficiency. Beef production was most efficient on large complexes with 10 000 young stock herds for rearing and fattening. Here fodder and labour consumption per unit of production were lower and production profitability were higher. Complexes with the full cycle of cattle rearing and fattening were the most efficient.

Among pig breeding complexes about half of weight gain was produced on large complexes with 108,000 head for fattening. They had high efficiency, less feed and labour consumption per quintal of weight gain. Many of such enterprises did not yield to foreign enterprises. Investments for construction were recovered more than once during the period of their functioning.

At the same time management analysis of specialized enterprises showed that many of them did not have enough agricultural land and it was used inefficiently. There were omissions during their design and construction. They have extreme herd concentration without consideration of fodder base, depended on purchased concentrates (from state reserve), manure removal was not thoroughly worked out and led to environment pollution. These shortcomings are taken into consideration in the development of new cattle fattening units. It is feasible to update and reconstruct existing large enterprises in order to keep and use them efficiently for high quality production.

Hasty and poorly thought-out market reforms in the national economy and its agrarian sector led to loss of potential achieved earlier. As a result of the transmission to "free" market relationships the possibilities of state regulation of agricultural enterprise economical development were eliminated, production-economical links established earlier were broken, monopoly of enterprises, processing raw materials and supplying means of production, were strengthened wrongfully, price imbalance on agricultural production and resources necessary for its production increased dramatically. In these conditions the majority of agricultural enterprises found themselves unprofitable. This especially influenced big specialized enterprises, and many of them collapsed, having great difficulty with supply of concentrates and whole milk substitutes, with herd gathering (due to reduction of dam herd by farm-suppliers), and with sale of their products at low prices dictated by monopoly processors.

It is necessary to stimulate the development of animal husbandry branches on all types of farms: agricultural enterprises, peasant households (farmsteads) and individual subsidiary farms. It will be based on a rational combination of large, medium and small-scale commodity production. At the same time animal concentration should be limited by ecological and economic criteria.

Integration of livestock into forage systems
In northern and north-western regions of the forest zone forage crops occupy 60-65 percent of sown area, including more than 50 percent of legumes. The main crop rotation is grass-cereal with a high content of perennial grasses and legumes. In central and eastern regions of the zone forage crops occupy 35 - 40 percent of sown land, including perennial swards - 25 - 30 percent.

The important agricultural regions of black soil lands are forest-steppe and steppe zones of European Russia. Farms mainly produce grain, Beta vulgaris var. altissima, Helianthus here. The attendant branches are sheep and beef cattle raising; 60-80 percent of land is arable. The proportion of row crops and fallow, which causes a negative humus balance and soil erosion, is more than 30 percent. There are only 0.16 ha of native forage land left per hectare of arable land.

Forage crops cover 25 percent of sown land, including not more than 10 percent of perennial swards with an environment-regenerative ability, which is extremely low. Organization of soil protection and erosion control means reduction of bare fallow and row crops and more perennial grassland. Perennial pasture is 50 percent of slopes in soil protection crop rotation in strips. If the arable land is cut with gullies, part of it should be transferred to grassland. Increase of perennial sward proportion in combination with forage land makes it possible to increase animal husbandry production in this region.

In Western and Eastern Siberia the zonal character of agricultural production systems, together with moisture and heat provision, is determined by such features as short growing period, extremely unequal precipitation distribution and severe winters. Spring crops are the basis of grain sowing; only in the semi-taiga zone, where the snow cover is thick enough, is winter rye included in rotations.

In the semi-taiga zone and northern forest-steppe, with enough precipitation, crop rotations consist of winter rye, annual and perennial grasses, forage grain, some row crops. These regions could increase planting of barley, Brassicaceae forage-legumes, and perennial grasses.

In southern forest-steppe and steppe, field forage production is based on diversified species, enabling maximum forage harvesting in difficult weather conditions. In crop structure there are crops providing the maximum harvest accumulation due to autumn-winter precipitation (winter rye, winter Brassica napus, perennial grasses); with early spring and summer moisture (annual grasses of different time of planting, grains) and precipitation in the second growing season (millet-like cereals, maize, legume-grass mixtures, cabbage family). The advantage of brassicas is their ability to continue growth after the first autumn frosts.

The main means of soil fertility maintenance in field crop rotations dominated by cereal-fallow and cereal-sown crop is sown and bare fallow. In contrast to European Russia there are spring Triticum, Hordeum, Avena, Pisum, Helianthus, forage Panicum in such rotations. Bare fallow should be changed to sweet clover fallow in the steppe of Western Siberia, especially on light soils. Grain specialization in the Siberian steppe, requiring a much arable land kept as bare fallow, leads to erosion, deflation and destruction of soil organic matter. It is necessary to re-orient farming of drought-affected regions to expand field forage production and development of pastures.

In sub-montane regions of Asian Russia with sufficient moisture and increased erosion risk, grain-fallow-grass crop rotations are the most feasible, where perennial pastures occupy 25 - 33 percent and in soil protection crop rotations up to 70 - 80 percent of arable land.

Farming of the Far East with monsoon climate and dramatically expressed continentality is characterised by relatively optimal arable land structure, where 34 percent is occupied by forage crops, including 21 percent of perennial pastures. The unit weight of bare fallow and row crops does not exceed 15 percent. Only here soya, perennial and annual grasses occupy 30 percent. In Primorie region perennial pasture in crop rotations occupies from 20 percent in the forest-steppe to 40 percent in taiga. On farms of the steppe zone crop rotations or soya is up to 30 percent, perennial pastures - 20 percent.

Vegetables and forage crop rotations prevail in Sakhalin island. Annual and perennial grasses are the main forage crops.

Feeding systems. Dairy cattle raising is mainly concentrated in the forest zone of European Russia and to a lesser extent in Asian Russia. Most farms have feeding systems based on native and sown pastures. In spring, before the pastureis ready for grazing, cattle are given green chop from winter crops. In autumn cattle graze on the aftermath of perennial grasses on arable land, or eat green chop transported and distributed to troughs. Some farms prefer stall summer maintenance of dairy herds with walking pens, feeding green chop on a "cut-and-carry" system with different forage crops, including forage from grassland. Such a system is used on farms with high cattle concentrations. Farms with native pastures far from cowsheds set up summer camps with milking equipment, electricity supply and sheds. Pasture establishment close to cowsheds have big advantages in comparison with summer camps. It is economically feasible to use remote pastures for replacement young stock.

Beef cattle are kept mainly in the forest-steppe and steppe zones of European and Asian Russia. System of maintenance includes combination of grazing native pastures, mainly on slopes, and additional feeding with green chop. The proportion of pasture forage in beef cattle feeding in Asian Russia is higher than in European Russia due to the different amount of ploughed land. High efficiency is achieved with intensive fattening at the final stage of rearing for slaughter. The suckling cow-calf system proved itself.

Grazing is the main method of sheep rearing. On the steppe sheep graze on steep gully slopes with fine grasses. Sown pastures are established mainly for pure bred herds of goats and sheep. Arid pastures are used mainly for sheep grazing. Pastures are the main source of forage for herbivores in summer. Steep slopes and mountain tops are used for sheep and goats. Gentle slopes and low- and middle mountains are suitable for cattle.

Horses are most efficiently reared on native pastures. In forest-steppe and steppe Festuca, Agropyron, and Stipa pastures are most suitable for horses. The urgent need is for more full pasture forage provision for animals.

Location of animal husbandry branches in the country regions
Development of animal husbandry branches occurs according to the native and economic features of regions. Dairying is developed in north-western and central parts of the forest zone of European Russia, close to industrial centres, where it is combined with poultry farming, due to high population density and impossibility of transporting such products.

Dairy-beef husbandry prevails in the south-west of the forest zone of European Russia which supplies the federal fund with butter, cheese and beef. The northern forest-steppe zone of European Russia has developed cattle husbandry, pork and poultry. Here there is the highest level of pork production per capita.

The southern forest-steppe, steppe and semi-desert zones are a key area of meat and fine wool production with more than 20 percent of Russia’s sheep. Dairy - beef and beef cattle husbandry is developed here as well. Dry steppe and foothills of European Russia favour different branches of animal husbandry: dairy-beef and beef cattle, sheep, pig and poultry rearing. A third of Russia’s sheep herd is here and more than 40 percent of all wool is produced here.

Forest and forest-steppe zones along the Ural mountains are characterized by development of dairy-beef husbandry; pig and poultry rearing is developed close to urban areas. In the south of the region, in the steppe, semi-fine wool and fine wool sheep and specialized beef husbandry are developed.

Branches of animal husbandry in Western Siberia, include dairy-beef husbandry and fine-wool sheep. This region supplies the federal fund with dairy products. Eastern Siberia has less intensive development of animal husbandry. Significant quantities are imported. In the Far East dairy husbandry and poultry breeding are developed to meet local demand since it is impossible to transport these products.

Animal breeds
There are 48 - 50 percent of Black and White, 20 percent of Red and White (including Simmentals and Sychev), 8 percent of Red (including Red Steppe - 93 percent), 4 percent of Brown (including Brown Swiss - 78 percent, Kostromskaya - 19 percent, Caucasus Brown - 3 percent) breeds. Furthermore 7 breeds are used mainly for pure-bred rearing. Their proportion in total herd are: 8,4 percent of Holmogorskaya, 3,8 percent of Bestuzhevskaya, 2,7 percent of Ayshire, 2 percent of Yaroslavskaya breed. In the future it is planned to increase the proportion of Black and White breed up to 55 percent, and in some regions up to 60 - 70 percent in dairy cattle husbandry. The unit weight of Red breeds will be 15 percent, Brown - 5 percent. In suburban areas with dairy (whole milk) cattle breeding the main breeds will be Black and White, Holmogorskaya, Kostromskaya, Ayrshire, and in the South - Red Steppe breed.

In dairy-beef cattle husbandry the main breeds are dual-purpose ones: Simmental and Brown Swiss, and some dairy breeds (Black and White, Holmogorskaya, Yaroslavskaya). Beef cattle are represented by Beef Simmentals, Kalmyk, Kazakh Whitehead, Hereford, Aberdeen Angus, Limousin and Charolais. The structure of beef breeds is as follows: Kalmyk - 42 percent, Hereford - 27 percent, Kazah Whitehead - 20 percent, Aberdeen Angus - 7 percent, Limousin - 3 percent, Charolais - about 1 percent. Specialized beef cattle husbandry will mainly be developed due to receiving and rearing of hybrid young stock from crossing of dairy-beef cows with sires of beef breeds.

Breed structure for sheep is determined by zones of their location. In the main sheep zones the principal breeds are fine-wool and semi-fine wool (in mountains - wool-meat focus), in central regions of forest zone - semi-fine wool breeds with meat-wool focus of productivity, in some regions of forest zone - Romanoff. At present sheep and goats number about 14,800,000 heads. Goat percentage is 5 percent. The increase of this livestock capita is envisaged up to 30,000,000 million including 3,000,000 goats. Most of this livestock is actually on individual farms.

Mainly local crossbreds are used in poultry, created on the basis of genetic fund of egg and meat production.

Deer herding. Russia has about 60 percent of all reindeer. It is a principal agricultural business for northern populations. Essential reindeer breeds are: Nenets, Avenk, Evenk and Chukotka; the fifth one - Tofalar has almost disappeared. Reindeer stocks amount to almost 1,200,000 million head. In small hill sub-montane and mountain regions of Altai and taiga regions of the Far East the breeding of Siberian stag is in progress. The principal product of this agricultural branch is velvet antlers. Up to 40 tons of preserved velvet antlers are produced annually and 70 percent of this is from Altai where there are about 36 thousand head of Siberian stag and East deer.

Horse breeding. The horse herd is currently about 1,800,000 but is expected to increase to 2,6 00,000 in the near future. The production of horse meat is anticipated to achieve 110,000 tons, that of kumis 3,300,000 tons. The main horse use is: work, production, breeding and sport. The most wide-spread are Orlov, Russian trotter, Don and cart-horse breeds.

Veterinary and sanitary condition
Veterinary hygiene and animal husbandry condition is satisfactory. Veterinary services periodically carry out prophylactic control of infection diseases. In addition, activities on invasive and parasitic diseases are carried out. The main causes of morbidity and mortality of agricultural animals are non-contagious diseases. Among infectious diseases tuberculosis and brucellosis, as well as leucosis, are commoner than others.

Increased volumes of import of agricultural production create a danger of other cattle disease movement, including exotic ones. In this connection necessary measures for strengthening of veterinarian and sanitary control and prevention (prophylactic) of possible infection diseases, which have recently occurred abroad (BSE, foot and mouth disease,) are accepted on Russian territory and in some regions of Russia.

Please continue