Quality of Slovak Agricultural lands, the BPEJ code and its usage in selecting agricultural land

The quality of agricultural soil in Slovakia is indicated by at the so called BPEJ number. BPEJ (simply also called “Bonita”) stands for a 5 digit numerical code. These 5 digits each refer to a separate quality character of the soil including aspects such as:

  • Climate location,
  • Morphogenetic properties,
  • Characteristic of soil-forming substrates,
  • Slope of the land,
  • Depth of the soil profile and stoniness.

The BPEJ numbers are summarized into 9 different categories. One can say that the number 1 represents the highest quality soils, number 9 the lowest. Non-agricultural lands do not belong to any of these categories. The map below shows the location and the quality of agricultural lands in Slovakia.

quality-slovak-lands

Source: VUPOP

Clearly visible is that the higher quality lands are located in the western part of Slovakia. Sedimentation from various rivers, including the Danube and the Vah has resulted in high quality soils, excellent suitable for agriculture. Higher land prices compared to other parts of Slovakia reflect this high quality. By far, it’s also the largest area for agriculture in Slovakia. The landscape is flat or slightly hilly to the northern part.

Following the southern border with Hungary to the east, the landscape becomes more hilly, but the quality of the soil remains good for agriculture. In the south-eastern part of the country (in the Kosice region), another area turns out to be well suited for agriculture. This area boarders the Hungarian and Ukrainian borders. Due to its distance to the western part of Slovakia, agricultural lands are less known and less demanded. However, they offer a good alternative for the more expensive lands in West-Slovakia.

Most of the other areas of the country are covered by mountains. The soil in these areas is for a large part not qualified as agricultural lands. Small areas in the north of Slovakia (around Liptovsky Mikulas, Poprad and Presov), form exceptions and have relatively good quality soil for agriculture. Climate conditions in these region differ largely from those in the southern part of the country.

Using the BPEJ in the selection process for land

In our advisory work we mostly refer to high quality soils, reflecting the category 1 to 5, middle quality soils, reflecting the categories 6 and 7 and the lower quality soils, reflecting the categories 8 and 9. Other important characteristics of the land, such as the availability of irrigation systems, infrastructure, accessibility, maintenance of the land and the availability of land are not included in the BPEJ system but are for farmers also decisive criteria when selecting agricultural lands. One also has to be careful when using the BPEJ code as it not always reflect the current state of the quality of the soil. In most locations the BPEJ was determined more than four decades ago. In cadastre areas where land consolidation has taken place, the BPEJ has been newly determined and is therefore more trustworthy.

It can be concluded that the BPEJ can be used as an important criteria for selecting agricultural land. However, it’s not always accurate and up to date and other important characteristics determining the quality of agricultural land are not included in the BPEJ.