Farm Size and Land Use Pattern Changes in Postsocialist Poland


The postsocialist transition resulted in widespread structural change in Polish agriculture, but fine-scale assessments of how these changes affected farming and rural landscapes are scarce. This article examines changes in farm sizes and land use patterns after the breakdown of socialism in Poland using micro-census data and satellite images. Our study area is Pyrzyce County. The analysis indicates a polarization of the farm size distribution (e.g., medium-sized farms disappeared) as well as marked changes in land use patterns (e.g., increasing field sizes and field aggregation). Interviews with farmers and stakeholders suggest that this shift can be explained by decreasing competitiveness of medium-sized farms in the emerging new agricultural value chain, which forced farmers to increase and intensify production or to downsize their farms, especially when the preference was for other occupations.

The Professional Geographer, 62(2) 197-210
Tobias Kuemmerle
Tobias Kuemmerle
Professor & Head of the Conservation Biogeography Lab