To fulfil the objectives of the European Green Deal; agricultural statistics must capture use data on the full range of fertilising products covered by the Fertilising Products Regulation [Regulation (EU) 2019/1009], including plant biostimulants and organic-based fertilisers. European farmers routinely use these products, and they are crucial tools to achieve the goals of the Common Agricultural Policy, the EU Green Deal, and the Farm to Fork Strategy. This is why the European Biostimulants Industry Council (EBIC) and the European Consortium of the Organic-Based Fertiliser Industry (ECOFI) call on the EU to gather statistics on the use of all fertilising products.
EBIC and ECOFI welcome the European Union’s intention to gather information on agriculture as accurately as possible to design and monitor policies that benefit all EU citizens. However, the original SAIO proposal only refers to organic and inorganic fertilisers, only part of the scope of the 2019 Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR).
The wide range of fertilising products grouped under the seven Product Function Categories (PFCs) in the FPR play complementary roles in plant nutrition and soil fertility. The SAIO should require the collection of data referring to all fertilising products referenced in the FPR because many of these contribute to specific objectives under the Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy, such as increase nutrient use efficiency.
EBIC and ECOFI believe that SAIO should include the umbrella term ‘fertilising product’ as defined in the FPR to enable the collection of data on the full range of fertilising products covered by that regulation. The FPR covers seven PFCs used in a complementary way to achieve optimal plant nutrition and soil fertility management. Currently, the SAIO proposals only foresees data collection on inorganic and organic fertilisers, leaving out six PFCs. Broadening this scope would provide the needed adaption of the proposal to the current regulatory framework for these products in the EU and ensure data gathering on the full range of PFCs of fertilising products that EU farmers commonly use.
In addition, the statistical classification of economic activities in the European Community (NACE categories) should also be updated to cover the full range of PFCs within fertilising products. As well as giving a higher resolution picture of EU agriculture, this would allow for more nuanced tracking of exports, as the EU is the world leader in plant biostimulants.
It would also be helpful for statistics at the European level to track the volume of fertilising products manufactured that are suitable for organic farming. In “organic fertilisers”, “organic” refers to their carbon content; this older category is much broader than the fertilisers suitable for organic agriculture, but there is confusion between them because of the terminology used.
If the main objective of the European agricultural statistics compiled by Eurostat is to monitor and evaluate the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and other EU policies to support policy-making, as stated in the current SAIO proposal, statistics must be gathered on the full range of products that EU farmers routinely use, not just inorganic fertilisers and plant protection products.
This will allow EU policy-makers to understand the evolving markets for and impacts of tools like plant biostimulants, organic fertilisers, organo-mineral fertilisers, soil improvers, growing media, and more, and to make informed decisions about how to best regulate these products. You cannot manage what you don’t measure, so gathering data on a narrow range of products is bound to provide an incomplete picture of the current understanding of plant nutrition and soil fertility management in the EU.
For more information
- Joint EBIC-ECOFI position paper: “The future regulation on statistics on agricultural input and output (SAIO) should cover all the product function categories under the Fertilising Products Regulation.”
- Joint Fertilizers Europe-EBIC-ECOFI brochure on “Plant nutrition & soil fertility: key to deliver Europe’s Green Deal objectives“
- Legislative Train Schedule for Statistics on Agricultural Input and Output (SAIO)
Media inquiries may be addressed to
European Biostimulants Industry Council (EBIC): Sara Garcia Figuera email@example.com
European Consortium of the Organic-Based Fertilizer Industry (ECOFI): Jessica Fitch firstname.lastname@example.org or +32495316244