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Conference paper, 2015

Structural transformation of grain farms: effects on farm management and the need for societal environmental solutions

Marquardt, Kristina; Eksvärd, Karin; Eriksson, Camilla
Eriksson, Camilla (ed.)

Abstract

The structural transformation of farms is arapidly on-going process in Sweden; farms enlarge their holdings of arable land and animals, a process resulting in a smaller number of farmers managing an increasingly specialised production. Through interviewswith farmers in central Sweden we explore how they experience this change, focusing on issues of farm management and how farmers conceptualise ecosystem services on their farms, as well as howthey respond to changing agricultural policies and environmental policies. Our results show that grain production is increasingly arranged around the logistic of efficient machinery use, whereas less consideration is taken to maintaining diverse crop rotation schemes. As most grain growers have no animal production and sell not only the grain but also straw,there is a general situation with less organic input tothe soil than previously on these large farms. The ecological effects on humus content, soil structure and soil biodiversity in a long time perspective is clear to the farmers and in some cases already noticeable.Some farmers try to deal with this by changing land preparation techniques but also argue that societal systems for nutrient and energy management e.g. sludge as manure, growing grass for biogas etc. is necessary. We conclude that land use plans on a landscape level, planning for a more inter-connected designed flow of nutrients and energy between farms and towns will be necessary to sustain soil qualityand thereby up-keep production and tackle the negative environmental effects of large-scale grain farms.

Published in

Title: XXVI European Society for Rural Sociology Congress : on-line proceedings : places of possibility? : rural societies in a neoliberal world
eISBN: 978-0-902701-14-4
Publisher: The James Hutton Institute

Conference

XXVI European Society for Rural Sociology Congress