The agricultural area in Belgium has increased by 21,806 ha, or 1.64 %, according to the provisional agricultural results of Statbel, the Belgian statistical office. This rise is almost entirely due to the increase of the area of green fodder (+13,744 ha) and permanent pastures (+8,513 ha).
The importance of leguminous plants has also increased: dried pulses have risen by 12.5 % and fodder legume crops, like clover, lucerne and mixes of leguminous plants, have increased by 28.5 %.
There is also a decline in cereals, with the exception of grain maize (+4,890 ha) and rye (+ 97 ha). Mainly the areas of winter wheat and winter barley have decreased.
Among industrial crops, there has been a sharp increase of chicory both in Flanders and Wallonia (+27.3 % or +1,784 ha). This increase is accompanied by a decrease of 1,248 ha for flax.
The total area of potatoes in Belgium remains stable compared to 2017. In Flanders, the area has decreased by 4.1 % while it has increased by 5.0 % in Wallonia. The area of early potatoes has decreased due to a delay in plantation in the spring.
The cattle population, with 2.45 million bovine animals, has remained stable in 2018 compared to 2017 in both regions. The number of heifers older than 2 years has increased (+5.6 %). The number of bovine animals aged 1 to 2 years has decreased. The number of dairy cows has increased by 2.1 %, while the number of suckler cows has decreased by 3 %. This trend concerns both Flanders and Wallonia.
The pig population has increased by 1.5 % to 6.11 million animals in 2018. The number of fattening pigs has particularly increased: by 1.7 % or 68,000. The number of breeding pigs has decreased by 2.3 %.
Remark: The number of agricultural holdings has increased by 1,1 %, due to more flexibility on the definition of active farmers in 2018 and a new refinement of Statbel's agricultural register.