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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) data allows identification of crop sequence patterns and diversity in organic and conventional farming systems.

Reumaux, Rafaelle; Chopin, Pierre; Bergkvist, Goran; Watson, Christine A.; Oborn, Ingrid

Abstract

Farmers grow crops in specific sequences to lower disease pressure and boost crop productivity, particularly in organic farming where artificial pesticides and chemical fertilisers are prohibited. Knowledge about crop sequences used in organic and conventional farming will aid the development of future farming systems through optimising crop diversity and pre-crop effects for improved resource efficiency. This study aims to investigate crop diversity and patterns in organic and conventional crop sequences in Sweden. Large-scale LPIS field data managed by the European Union (EU) Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) were used to monitor crop sequences on arable land in Sweden over 10 consecutive years (2005-2014). Individual fields (land parcels) could be followed on 40% of Sweden's total arable area (349,891 fields extracted) over the 10 years. The LPIS data was combined with information from a database on which fields were farmed organically. Crop distribution, diversity of crop sequences and pre-crops to the main cereal crops (winter wheat, spring barley) were analysed in organic and conventional farming systems in the five agricultural productivity zones of Sweden. The results showed that in the most productive zone in southernmost Sweden, small-grain cereals (particularly winter wheat) were the most common crops (62%), followed by oilseeds (11%), ley and forage crops (9%) and sugar beet (8%), when excluding permanent grassland. In the least productive zone (at higher altitudes and/or latitudes), ley and forage crops dominated (67%), followed by spring cereals (barley, oats) (23%). Crop diversity was higher in the two more productive zones (mean 4.6 crop types) than in two less productive zones (3.4) and organic farms showed 9% higher crop diversity than conventional farms in the most productive zones. Overall, in all zones, the pre-crop to winter wheat was generally a different crop type (3 out of 5 times) e.g., young ley (1-2 years) or grain legume, while the pre-crop to spring barley was most often (4 out of 5 times) another cereal. For both these crops, pre-crop type was more diverse in organic than conventional systems. These findings demonstrate that LPIS data can offer valuable insights into agronomic trends and on-farm practices regarding crop choice and that analysis of field-level LPIS data on crop sequences at large scale can reveal information about organic and conventional cropping in different productivity zones across countries. This information can be used to understand the practical limitations in the use of crop diversity to maximise pre-crop effects. This could in turn support advisory service and policy makers to facilitate more sustainable, productive and resource efficient crop production.

Keywords

Arable land-use; Crop diversity; Crop rotation; Organic farming

Published in

European Journal of Agronomy
2023, Volume: 149, article number: 126916
Publisher: ELSEVIER