Advanced

The use of conservation tillage in an agro-intensive region : results from a survey of farmers in Scania, Sweden

Hydbom, Sofia LU ; Alkan Olsson, Johanna LU and Olsson, Pål Axel LU (2018) In Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems p.1-10
Abstract

Conventional agricultural practices can lead to soil erosion and a reduction in soil organic carbon (SOC) content. It has been suggested that less intensive agricultural practices, such as conservation tillage (including no-till and reduced till without soil inversion) may reduce both erosion and loss of SOC. The aim of this study was to determine whether, and why, conservation tillage is used in Scania, which is one of the most agro-intensive regions in Sweden. We also investigated how information on tillage practices is obtained, why one type of tillage may be favored over another, and whether some farmers are more likely to use conservation tillage. The result of this study will benefit policy makers and researchers by pinpointing... (More)

Conventional agricultural practices can lead to soil erosion and a reduction in soil organic carbon (SOC) content. It has been suggested that less intensive agricultural practices, such as conservation tillage (including no-till and reduced till without soil inversion) may reduce both erosion and loss of SOC. The aim of this study was to determine whether, and why, conservation tillage is used in Scania, which is one of the most agro-intensive regions in Sweden. We also investigated how information on tillage practices is obtained, why one type of tillage may be favored over another, and whether some farmers are more likely to use conservation tillage. The result of this study will benefit policy makers and researchers by pinpointing factors that influence the use of conservation tillage. To collect data, a questionnaire was sent to farmers in Scania in 2016. We found that the majority of the responding farmers used conservation tillage, and that it was more likely to be used if the farmer was highly educated and spent more than 50% of their annual working time on crop production. The use of conservation tillage was also more common if the farm was large and clay soil dominated. Crop rotation was often highlighted as the most important factor influencing the choice of tillage practice, which may be due to crop species requirements. When asked to compare the consequences of reduced tillage and plowing, the perception of farmers using conservation tillage was in general more positive, indicating skepticism toward the practice of reduced tillage until it had been tried. We show that the use of conservation tillage, sometimes in combination with plowing, is widespread in Scania. However, unless changes in, for example, crop rotation and labor requirements occur, the use of conservation tillage will most likely remain the same as today, or only increase slightly in the near future. Farm enlargement may result in an increased conservation tillage use, and so may efforts to educate advisors, increased opportunities for peer-to-peer meetings, and the development of economically viable small farm solutions. Increased conservation tillage may be part of the solution for sustainable crop production, but drawbacks such as increased pesticide use must be addressed further, as well as factors such as crop rotation development and practical knowledge that influence conservation tillage use at the farm level.

(Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
epub
subject
keywords
Conservation tillage, crop rotation, farmer, plowing, Sweden
in
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
pages
10 pages
publisher
Cambridge University Press
external identifiers
  • scopus:85048783911
ISSN
1742-1705
DOI
10.1017/S174217051800025X
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
ded2f78c-8ea2-4bfc-95dc-03e4eda0786a
date added to LUP
2018-07-05 13:52:59
date last changed
2019-02-20 11:21:44
@article{ded2f78c-8ea2-4bfc-95dc-03e4eda0786a,
  abstract     = {<p>Conventional agricultural practices can lead to soil erosion and a reduction in soil organic carbon (SOC) content. It has been suggested that less intensive agricultural practices, such as conservation tillage (including no-till and reduced till without soil inversion) may reduce both erosion and loss of SOC. The aim of this study was to determine whether, and why, conservation tillage is used in Scania, which is one of the most agro-intensive regions in Sweden. We also investigated how information on tillage practices is obtained, why one type of tillage may be favored over another, and whether some farmers are more likely to use conservation tillage. The result of this study will benefit policy makers and researchers by pinpointing factors that influence the use of conservation tillage. To collect data, a questionnaire was sent to farmers in Scania in 2016. We found that the majority of the responding farmers used conservation tillage, and that it was more likely to be used if the farmer was highly educated and spent more than 50% of their annual working time on crop production. The use of conservation tillage was also more common if the farm was large and clay soil dominated. Crop rotation was often highlighted as the most important factor influencing the choice of tillage practice, which may be due to crop species requirements. When asked to compare the consequences of reduced tillage and plowing, the perception of farmers using conservation tillage was in general more positive, indicating skepticism toward the practice of reduced tillage until it had been tried. We show that the use of conservation tillage, sometimes in combination with plowing, is widespread in Scania. However, unless changes in, for example, crop rotation and labor requirements occur, the use of conservation tillage will most likely remain the same as today, or only increase slightly in the near future. Farm enlargement may result in an increased conservation tillage use, and so may efforts to educate advisors, increased opportunities for peer-to-peer meetings, and the development of economically viable small farm solutions. Increased conservation tillage may be part of the solution for sustainable crop production, but drawbacks such as increased pesticide use must be addressed further, as well as factors such as crop rotation development and practical knowledge that influence conservation tillage use at the farm level.</p>},
  author       = {Hydbom, Sofia and Alkan Olsson, Johanna and Olsson, Pål Axel},
  issn         = {1742-1705},
  keyword      = {Conservation tillage,crop rotation,farmer,plowing,Sweden},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {06},
  pages        = {1--10},
  publisher    = {Cambridge University Press},
  series       = {Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems},
  title        = {The use of conservation tillage in an agro-intensive region : results from a survey of farmers in Scania, Sweden},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S174217051800025X},
  year         = {2018},
}