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Agricultural Intensification an Example for the Kaliningrad Region (Russia): Problems of Ecosystem Services

  • Dara V. GaevaEmail author
  • Eugene V. Krasnov
  • Galina M. Barinova
  • Timur V. Gaev
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69626-3_79-1


Agricultural intensification defined (FAO) as “an increase in agricultural production per unit of inputs (which may be labor, land, time, fertilizer, seed, feed, or cash). For practical purposes, intensification occurs when there is an increase in the total volume of agricultural production that results from a higher productivity of inputs or agricultural production is maintained while certain inputs are decreased (such as by more effective delivery of smaller amounts of fertilizer, better targeting of plant or animal protection, and mixed or relay cropping on smaller fields). Intensification that takes the form of increased production is most critical when there is a need to expand the food supply, for example, during periods of rapid population growth. Intensification that makes more efficient use of inputs may be more critical when environmental problems or social issues are involved.”

By Tittonell (2014365体育网站) ‘Ecological intensification in Agriculture proposes landscape approaches that make smart use of the natural functionalities that ecosystems offer. The aim is to design multifunctional agroecosystems that are both sustained by nature and sustainable in their nature’.


365体育网站The following paper addresses regional aspects of agricultural land use in the Kaliningrad region (former East Prussia) focusing on historical stages of agricultural development ranging from ancient to modern times. By means of a comparative analysis, essential differences crystallized in basic concepts of achieving production targets, each of them linked to different social systems as they existed during prewar (until end of 1944), Soviet postwar (from 1945 to 1991), and post-Soviet periods (from 1991 until now). This study is not designed to analyze the change of agriculture as a whole but a small, albeit very important section of it, mainly the beekeeping and its particular ecological function, as a provider of part of regulating ecosystem services (pollination) affecting agricultural output. Furthermore, in view of regional and global change, it is necessary to focus on the feasibility of intervention to bring about ecological adjustments helping to avoid or at least to moderate adverse effects.

Growing natural and anthropogenic challenges affecting modern agriculture in terms of yields and environmental burden caused by overuse, overfertilization, floods, or drought due to climate change, interlink, taking on, every now and again, a cataclysmic scale. This evolution is central to case studies dealing with issues of agricultural history in different regions of Europe, Asia, or North and South America investigating causes and effects of changes in cultivation of crops or in breeding of farm animals. These negative repercussions, in a large part relating with man-made encroachments, need, among others, intensive researches aiming at the creation or reestablishment of environmental conditions that ensure viability of bees, both wild and domestic species, as they play a major part in the ecological functioning of edible plants as pollinators – a fact neglected or even ignored by decision-makers or by stakeholders merely in line with short-term economic interests. Thus, radical changes in terms of time and spaces were tackled by analyzing ecosystems against the background of complex interactions between plant, animal, and man. In comparison with Asia, including Russia, as well as with both Americas, where publications dealing with these items were less widespread, western specialist literature focused on connections between crop yields, areas of beekeeping, and bee behavior more intensively.


The main features of the balanced development of agroecosystems are a high level of biodiversity and the low level of pollution of its components. At high anthropogenic (man-made) transformation ecosystems, it is not possible to carry out a clear boundary between natural and agricultural components.

Agroecosystems have a number of features as to be seen in the following:
  • Indivisibility of the natural and anthropogenic subsystems. It determines their interaction, development and the conservation of their vital service functions such as biological control of pests, pollination, reproduction, maintain of genetic diversity, and genepool a sound habitat for plants and animals, which humans can benefit from (Potts et al. 2016; Neumann et al. 2018; Rusch et al. 2017; Cruz-Cárdenas et al. 2019).

  • Inability to long remote control, since the kernel system are living organisms (crop plants, animals), modified by man and constantly in need of resources and the environment with certain parameters (soil, food, climate, etc.). Relative facilitation of control in agriculture systems achieves with precision agriculture and computer-controlled farm automation (Anisi et al. 2015; Walter et al. 2017).

  • Limited control over climate impacts. Unlike other controlled man-made systems, efficiency of agroecosystem mostly depends on the climatic factors, since it is almost impossible to protect the yield from adverse weather events, while climate change can have both positive and negative effects on crop yields depending on the crop and region (Knox et al. 2016; Neset et al. 2019;). At the same time, one of the ways to mitigate the effects of climate impacts is to increase biodiversity (Altieri and Nicholls 2017), preserve soil fertility (Panagos et al. 2016), and water management (Iglesias and Garrote 2015).

Before starting to analyze regional aspects of agricultural development in one of the “hot spots” of modern and yesterday’s world, previous approaches leading to most recent findings about practicing agriculture need to be considered from different scientific angles. The notion of “Environmental Health” (Jаkobsson 2012) has to be stressed as an important indicator for ecosystems determining its suitability for living organisms. Though being a generally comprehensible obviousness, it has to be specified that this expression transcends its conventional concept of health that, instead of merely describing an outward and superficial condition, implies a connection between human activities, environmental changes, population health, and living organisms. Such a new assessment launches a variety of scientific approaches creating new knowledge in environmental, social, and economic perspectives of agroecosystems. In the course of this, the phenomenon of global climate change and its impacts on agriculture are of paramount importance and have to be taken into account. For instance, extreme high-temperature influence yields in a negative way (Fedoroff and Bаttisti 2010). The same is true for wildlife being highly sensitive to changing habitat conditions as it may happen for bees.

The deviations in the plant flowering timing (Körner and Basler 2010; Menzel and Sparks 2006) and asynchrony of flowering of cultural and wild plants and correspondingly of insect’s activity in particular bees may lead to a decrease of grain yield or even, in the worst case, to a loss of the whole harvest and to a deficit and nonappearance of honey production, respectively. The role of bees and their occurrence in number as wild and domestic species as honey producers and pollinators of field plants are commonly known. But there are only few publications focusing on assessing the important role of bees in the landscape (Klein et al. 2007; Dixon 2009; Tylianakis 2013). Farming for ecosystem service including pollination was described only from practical point of view (Portman 2013; Robertson et al. 2014). From larger economical and ecological perspective, pollination was discussed in connection with rape (Brassica napus L.) (Stanley et al. 2013).

The effect of the diversity and abundance of wild and honey bees on crop yields in 41 crop systems was published by Gаribаldi and Steffаn-Dewenter (2013). Special attention in this case was given to mapping the participation of wild and domestic bees in pollination worldwide. Research on the role of flora revealed a major importance of a rich biodiversity to the benefit of honey bees living in certain agroecosystems (Decourtye et al. 2010). Very special monetary looking to global ecosystem service including pollination was demonstrated by De Groot et al. (2012). Calculations showed that certain biocenoses like meadows, wetlands, coastal ecosystems, etc. prove economically prosperous achieving a profit ranging from one to four USD per hectare and year.

A radical rethinking agriculture for the twenty-first century was suggested by scientists like Fedoroff and Bаttisti (2010) because increase in population, limited arable land caused by contamination and/or soil depletion due to monocultures, and fresh water shortage, in combination with negative repercussions in the wake of climate change, have disastrous effects on sustainability of agriculture as well as on human life. After all, symptoms of climate change assuming alarming proportions and more and more massively arising in different regions of the world, a decreasing biodiversity, a widespread disregard of ecologically necessary pollinating as a crucial example of ecosystem functions, all that goes along with market – determined land use, which mainly controlled by internationally operating transnational companies. A return to traditional values is vital which means that short – term managements aligned with regional needs of the population seem to be the only reasonable alternative. Concepts of ecological farming are, though not the rule, already practiced.

As a matter of fact, organisms, forming a systemic nature, affect each other on the basis of dynamic interactions ensuring, on the one hand, a continued vital structure, on the other hand, a disequilibrium – that is to say a disorder if not a breakdown – of interacting processes when man-made interferences become rampant. To be more precise, ongoing species extinction with a simultaneous interruption of materials cycles, e.g., water, carbon, nitrogen, etc., change the coherence of the system. Although these nexuses seem to be a commonplace, it is also obvious that human behavior is the only agent that breaks natural law destroying the basis of life.

Studying the successive phases of changing spatial structure of rural landscape produces a critical result concerning natural and anthropogenic factors when planning and cultivating utilizable space of land. Studies on this item were carried out, for example, in Lithuania (Buchas 1987365体育网站). Results revealed that human factors increasingly gained upper hand under the increasing domination of those farms seeking to work more and more effectively as it is, by the way, more and more the case in western countries where new agricultural production systems or, for example, an increasing number of farms, each operating as a chain link in a vertically integrated system, specialize according to the production target preset by the top management. In such a kind of agrobusiness structures, ecological principles live in the shadow.

In the Kaliningrad region, beekeeping was absolutely neglected not only in terms of commercialization but also in those of ecosystem service of pollination. From an ecological point of view, agricultural ecosystems as they existed differ from natural ones by the fact that human interference gains complete control modulating natural processes to the benefit of extracting vegetable and animal components or products meeting consumer’s needs that, of course, reshapes the landscape and its ecological basics. Therefore, the goal of a balanced development of agricultural use, namely, a high-quality production of food, is of paramount importance with a preservation of potential resources to ensure keeping up life and health of man, animals, and plants (Altieri 1987365体育网站). Ecosystem service approach, defined, among others, as applying procedures to identify ecological threats for natural and antropogenic ecosystems and living organisms, is supposed to find socially acceptable and effective solutions to environmental solutions. However, some problems (lack of information, techniques, etc.) still hamper this widely recognized approach.

Materials and Methods

The dynamics of geoecological conditions for pollination and the place of beekeeping in the modern agricultural system with use of historical-geographical method considered on the example of the western exclave of Russia. Used published data on agricultural land use and crop yields from the end of the nineteenth century and modern data from official agricultural statistics. The contribution of bees to the production of agricultural products estimated based on modern data on sown area of entomophilous crops.


History of Agrarian Land Use in East Prussia and Kaliningrad Region (Russia)

An important drive of agricultural land use in East Prussia (now – the most western region of Russia on the Baltic Sea Coast – Kaliningrad region) dates from the seventeenth to the end of the eighteenth century, when the construction of polders began, which is worth being mentioned because the shape of cultural land use underwent a decisive change. The construction of a first embankment at Gilgen (today’s Matrosov Canal) began in 1613 under Elector Johann Sigismund with the most low-lying parts situated at 0.3–0.5 m above sea level. Floods sedimented fertile silt, creating good conditions for obtaining high yields of grass and hay and development of dairy farming making possible the foundation of dairy processing plants in Heydekrug – today’s Silute (Lithuania) which, among others, created the world-renowned “Tilsiter Käse” (Tilsit Cheese). The risk of overflow was overcome in 1896 after finishing 30 kilometers of levees providing cover against inundation coming from Curonian Lagoon. This example of valorizing natural areas for establishing settlement zones and transforming natural land for agrarian use shows that new techniques in landscaping can beneficially lead to both a productive labor and natural rigors. There are four periods to be distinguished, prewar period, Soviet period, post-Soviet period, and modern period, which can be assigned to by setting the following comparison parameters: yields of crops and size of farms (Liedtke 2011).

Firstly, the prewar period characterized by the predominance of crops under grain and leguminous crops (35–50%) and 8–6% of arable land – under highly productive pasture with grass yield from 42 to 36 t/ha (Table 1).
Table 1

Crop yields in the East Prussia (Kaliningrad region) 1881–1943, cwt/ha (Hаnsen 1916; Scheu 1936)









Winter wheat




























Perennial grass (hay)






Small farms prevailed in East Prussia at the beginning of the twentieth century that positively affected biodiversity. For the period 1907 to 1939, the number of farms with a size of 5–10 ha of farmland decreased by more than a half (Table 2). But the area of farms of East Prussia was rarely more than 500 ha (Table 2).
Table 2

Тhe area to the total area of farms agricultural land in East Prussia from 1907 to 1939, %, (Schmidt and Blohm 1978)


2–5 ha

5–10 ha

10–20 ha

20–100 ha

100 or more ha





















From 1893 to 1940, sown areas under fodder crops (alfalfa, clover) increased by 16%. The increase in the area under forage cultures (simultaneously honey plants) partly contributed to beekeeping. In 1912, 100 ha area had 7.0 beehives. In 1939, products of animal origin amounted to 65% of the total agricultural production value.

As for arable farming, in the crop rotations mainly used a mixture of red clover and timothy. The most widespread grass mixture was as follows: clover 60%, timothy 40%, or clover timothy 40%, other 20%. Pastures were used for a more complex grass mixture with red and white clover, timothy, ryegrass, cocksfoot, and others. On sandy soils, there were widespread plantings of lupine blue (for green manure) or sweet lupine mixed with vetch for hay or green forage.

Soviet period. An important part of land use was designated for dairy farming: more than 50% of the land was used for permanent hay meadows and pastures. The area of arable land sown with grain crops reached roughly 48%. The average density of beehives was about 1.0 per 100 ha.

Post-Soviet period. The structure of farmland has changed compared with previous periods. According to the results of the agricultural census in 2006, the land use splits up as follows:
  • Pastures and hay meadows 35%

  • Arable land 43%

  • Fallow land 21%, but yields of most crops have increased in modern period (Table 3)

Table 3

Crop yields in the Kaliningrad region 1990–2013, cwt/ha. (Source: Authors (according to data: ROSSTAT 2018))










Winter wheat








365体育网站Winter barley
























365体育网站Perennial grasses (hay)








From 1990 to 2013, there are some increase in the yield of basic cereals and potatoes in the region. However, some decrease in hay yield (Table 3).

Modern period.365体育网站 This period coincides with the beginning of the implementation of federal and regional programs: “Preservation and restoration of soil fertility of agricultural land and agricultural land as a national heritage of Russia in the years 2006–2010 and for the period up to 2013” and “Rural Social Development of the Kaliningrad region in 2007–2012.” Long-term aims “The program for the development of agriculture and regulation of markets, raw materials and food for 2013-2020.”

Its main goal was the solution of social and environmental issues including:
  • Promoting the growth of agricultural production

  • 365体育网站Detection of animal epidemics to prevent their spread

  • Supporting smaller farms to prevent corporate concentration in view of a rampant globalization steered by multinationals

  • Improving profitability for a more sustainable development

  • 365体育网站Improving the quality of life of the rural population by creating an infrastructure guaranteeing a minimum of commerce satisfying basic needs, constructing paved routes, medical facilities, etc.

  • Development of land reclamation not without having regard to ecological requirements

  • Sound management of renewable resources, for example, by using clean energy

  • 365体育网站Optimization of soil fertility avoiding overfertilization by, for example, excessive use of nitrates

A very important task of Russian policy consists of achieving food independence as far as possible by improving the competitiveness of the agricultural sector in the domestic and foreign markets.

In the structure of production in 2013, crop production was leading – 53% in actual prices. Amid growing crop yields there is a tendency to a decrease of gross yield of forage and food crops and increase production volumes of rapeseed.

From 1990 to 2013, there is an increase in the yield of basic cereals and potatoes. However, a decrease in the yield of hay is reduced. One of the main problems in the region is the increase of areas for energy crop production by means of particularly growing rape. The development of its proportion amounted to 15% of the arable land in 2013. In the three regions, there was even to be found an exceed of 25%. This new development justifies the need to act with a sound ecological judgment as mentioned above: In the Kaliningrad region, more than half of the soil is already acidified, and an ongoing cultivation of rape threatens to bring about soil degradation by excessively utilizing sulfur fertilizer. In addition, due to the spread of monocultures, become worse the forage conditions for bees in the region – the main pollinators in agricultural ecosystems.

Currently, there are five large pig farms with a livestock between 7 and 100,000 animals (90% of the total number of pigs’ population), five big dairy farms with a livestock between 1.5 and 5,000 animals, and one farm with 10,000 of beef cattle. Modern increase of concentration of production makes it difficult to maintain an effective environmental protection and to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. The enlargement of farms as well as an increasing livestock farming leads, furthermore, to an inevitable decrease in the proportion of cultural grasslands with high phytodiversity, performing a stabilizing function in the cultural landscape, providing a wide range of ecosystem services (Matzdorf et al. 2010365体育网站). This indesirable development leads to a rethinking of policy in agriculture supporting, from now on, more and more small- and medium-sized farms and family dairy farms, including breeding goats, which prevents bushing of pastures and also reduces the amount of organic waste.

The Place of Beekeeping in Agroecosystems

As an agriculture branch, beekeeping has a synergistic relationship with other types of agricultural nature use. All three sub-sectors of agriculture represented in the scheme: beekeeping, crop production, and animal husbandry, interconnected by direct and feedback links. Beekeeping in agricultural ecosystems exists thanks to nectar and pollen of agricultural plants, providing pollination in return. In turn, crop production, as the basis for successful animal husbandry, supplies this industry with feed in the form of grain, protein, green mass of plants, etc., receiving in return organic fertilizers that support soil fertility. All three sub-sectors, supporting each other, supply consumers with food and raw materials (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1

The place of beekeeping in the agrarian nature management. (Source: Authors)

Livestock and crop growing are indirectly and directly, respectively, dependent on beekeeping being essential for the dissemination of most of the crops. Accelerating regrowing processes of vanished or endangered species in no longer pristine habitats, bees fulfill a vital function. That implies the intensive and promising assessment of plants achieving high pollination potentials (Kingsley 2009) as they are attractive food sources for both wild and honey bees. A lack of pollinators in cultivation landscapes leads to the ousting of entomophilous, highly productive honey plants in combination with anemophilous species, mainly wild cereals.

With the given ecological role of honey bees and perennials, a symbiotic interaction of leguminous plants and microorganisms is possible to control the development of the agroecosystem increasing its sustainability. Experiments proved that biodiversity on fallow land could be increased by intensive bee pollination activities (Makarov and Mishin 2004).

Assessment of the Effectiveness of Ecosystem Services Provided by Bees

The increase in the dependence of the global agriculture from insect pollination has been proven. The area cultivated with pollinator-dependent crops has increased by nearly 70% for the developed world and ∼100% for the developing world from 1961 to 2006 (Aizen et al. 2008).

Defined five classes depending on plant pollination (Klein et al. 2007): the lack of dependence (the yield does not increase/decrease without pollinators, Class 0); a small dependence (reduction in yield by 1–10%, Class 1); average dependency (reduction in yield by 11–40%, Class 2); high dependency (reduction by 41–90%, Class 3); and significant dependency (reduction by more than 90% without pollinators, Class 4). There is an evidence of declining yield of buckwheat without pollination by bees to 65% (Vazhov and Pankov 2009). In Ireland, estimated yield losses of rape amounted to 27%, while the economic value of pollination contribution for winter rape was defined in 2.6 million € per year and spring rape in 1.3 million €, as a result of a total value of € 3.9 million per year (Stanley et al. 2013). Decline in yields of fodder beans without of pollination by insects was 20.5% (Zherukov et al. 2012). Using honey bees as the main pollinator also increases the yield of perennial legumes – an average of 40–56% (Yaroshevich 2009). Commercial crops cultivated in the region with the aid of bee pollination include three types of species: rape, faba beans, and buckwheat, all together covering an area by 22.1%, 2.4%, and 0.1%, respectively (Gaeva 2015). The area under entomophilous crops increased by 360.5% in 2014 compared to 1990 (Fig. 2).
Fig. 2

Changing in the area under the pollinator-dependent crops in the Kaliningrad region, in % by 1990. (Source: Authors (on the data of ROSSTAT 2018))

On the basis of data on the gross harvest and yield for each crop calculated in 2014 for Kaliningrad Region, after deducting of production costs (Vazov and Pankov 2009365体育网站) the value of for entomophilous grain crops amounted to 18.4 million US - $,. While in the structure of entomophilous crops rape takes 88%. Given a slight price fluctuation for rapeseed in the European market from 2008 to 2014 between 300 and 400 euro only per ton, there will probably be an increase of rapeseed expanses in the study area.


The main scientific question of our work was to determine the influence of the land-use structure and the intensity of the management of the agricultural system on the pollination service. On the example of the studied region, it is confirmed that in modern agricultural systems, the need for pollination is growing (Aizen et al. 2019). There is an imbalance in the areas of crops that require pollination and at the same time are beneficial for bees. Global agricultural productivity is threatened by increasing pollinator dependence, and this requires a smart agri-environmental management of agroecosystem (Marja et al. 2019).

In contrast to sufficient information on the number of farm animals, both globally and regionally, data on the number of bees in the regional context are often fragmentary or missing, which does not allow us to accurately assess the contribution of domestic bees to pollination.

Such studies, with the inclusion of historical data on land use and the number of domestic bees, would be useful for optimizing the crop structure in other regions of Europe, while taking into account the known number of wild pollinators and the area of natural forage land. Historical analysis confirms the growing need for pollination, and this trend indicates the need to take into account the development of the beekeeping subindustry in modern agroecosystems as an indispensable part.


There are, on the one hand, a global symbiotic system “crops – bees – man,” ensuring a solid food supply for the population and, on the other hand, a biodiversity of large areas as fundamental prerequisites for bees to survive helping to maintain the flourishing and productivity of both crops and wild flora and thus participating in the restoration of disturbed landscapes being able to launch succession processes of more and more different species. Cultivation of pollinators-dependent monocultures requires the creation of habitats for pollinating insects in agroecosystems. The bee population living in Kaliningrad region has been low up to now amounting to a number of 0.1 to 0.2 bee colonies per 1 ha of cultivated area. This corresponds to neighboring countries (Poland, Lithuania) though the demand for pollinators increases every year. The moderate distribution of leguminous grasses in pastures and hay meadows can reduce the risk of grass diseases and increase the nutritional value of feed attracting pollinators in the agricultural landscapes.

The modern studies across Europe (Krimmer et al. 2019; Martin et al. 2019) provides a clear demonstration that wildlife-friendly management and small-scale agricultural systems (Hass et al. 2018) support ecosystem services and can even increase crop yields. Ecological intensification has been promoted as a means to achieve environmentally sustainable increases in crop yields by enhancing ecosystem functions that regulate and support production. There is direct evidence of yield benefits from ecological intensification on commercial farms growing globally important foodstuffs (grains, oilseeds, and pulses) by creating of wildlife habitats on the parts of commercial arable farms (Pywell et al. 2015).



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dara V. Gaeva
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eugene V. Krasnov
    • 2
  • Galina M. Barinova
    • 2
  • Timur V. Gaev
    • 3
  1. 1.Division for ResearchImmanuel Kant Baltic Federal UniversityKaliningradRussia
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental Management, Urban Development and Spatial Planning (IEMUD&SP)Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal UniversityKaliningradRussia
  3. 3.Department of Animal Husbandry Kaliningrad branch of Saint-Petersburg State Agrarian UniversityKaliningradRussia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Paschal Arsein Mugabe
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Engineering and Technology (COET)University of Dar es SalaamDar es SalaamTanzania