Do farmers perceive a deficiency of soil organic matter? A European and farm level analysis

R. Hijbeek*, A. Cormont, G. Hazeu, L. Bechini, L. Zavattaro, B. Janssen, M. Werner, N. Schlatter, Gema Guzmán, J. Bijttebier, A.A. Pronk, M. van Eupen, M.K. van Ittersum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Agricultural soils with too little soil organic matter (SOM) content are characterized by fertility problems. A number of authors have tried to specify threshold values for SOM content to indicate what is ‘too little', ranging from 1 to 5%, below which yields may be affected. How much SOM content is sufficient, however, depends on a number of environmental factors. In addition, up to date farmers' perceptions were not included when developing thresholds. Therefore, this study focuses on the following three objectives: (1) to identify a risk indicator on SOM deficiency based on environmental factors and agricultural land use; (2) to test the risk indicator using farmers' perceptions and (3) to establish threshold values for SOM content based on farmers' perceptions. For objective 1, literature was reviewed on effects of environmental factors and land use on SOM deficiency. Findings were combined into nine options for a risk indicator on SOM deficiency, mapped at European scale. For objective 2, a farm survey was done among 1452 arable farmers in five European countries (Belgium, Germany, Austria, Spain and Italy). Associations between perceived deficiency of SOM by farmers and environmental factors, land use and the risk indicator were investigated. For objective 3, farmers' perceptions on SOM deficiency were related to the average SOM content of their fields. Mapping the risk indicator at European scale gives a high to very high risk of SOM deficiency for 7 to 37% of European agricultural land, mainly located in Southern and Eastern Europe. Of the farmers in our survey, 18% perceived a high to very high SOM deficiency. A weak correlation was found between the risk indicator and farmers' perceptions of SOM deficiency (0.15-0.18, Spearman's rank correlation). Stronger relations were found between separate environmental factors and perceived SOM deficiency. Apparently, having a more extreme environmental condition for one factor gives a higher chance of perceiving a deficiency of SOM than a combination of moderate environmental conditions. Based on farmers' perceptions threshold intervals for SOM content were established (sand: 1.2–4.7%, loam: 0.6–2.6% and clay: 1.0–2.4%). If policies on SOM management want to include benefits for productive capacity, targeting areas with a relatively high risk of SOM deficiency, more extreme environmental conditions or with very low SOM contents (below the given threshold intervals) seems most promising.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-403
JournalEcological Indicators
Volume83
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Fingerprint

soil organic matter
farm
farmers
farms
environmental factors
environmental factor
analysis
Farm
Farmers
Soil
land use
environmental conditions
agricultural land
farm surveys
economic productivity
Southern European region
Eastern European region
agricultural soils
loam
Belgium

Keywords

  • Agriculture
  • Arable farming
  • Critical level
  • Crops
  • Europe
  • Farmers' perceptions
  • Land use
  • Productive capacity
  • Risk indicator
  • Soil organic carbon
  • Soil organic matter
  • SOM deficiency
  • Threshold value

Cite this

Hijbeek, R. ; Cormont, A. ; Hazeu, G. ; Bechini, L. ; Zavattaro, L. ; Janssen, B. ; Werner, M. ; Schlatter, N. ; Guzmán, Gema ; Bijttebier, J. ; Pronk, A.A. ; van Eupen, M. ; van Ittersum, M.K. / Do farmers perceive a deficiency of soil organic matter? A European and farm level analysis. In: Ecological Indicators. 2017 ; Vol. 83. pp. 390-403.
@article{63ad0da45b464b3693ef91221422118f,
title = "Do farmers perceive a deficiency of soil organic matter? A European and farm level analysis",
abstract = "Agricultural soils with too little soil organic matter (SOM) content are characterized by fertility problems. A number of authors have tried to specify threshold values for SOM content to indicate what is ‘too little', ranging from 1 to 5{\%}, below which yields may be affected. How much SOM content is sufficient, however, depends on a number of environmental factors. In addition, up to date farmers' perceptions were not included when developing thresholds. Therefore, this study focuses on the following three objectives: (1) to identify a risk indicator on SOM deficiency based on environmental factors and agricultural land use; (2) to test the risk indicator using farmers' perceptions and (3) to establish threshold values for SOM content based on farmers' perceptions. For objective 1, literature was reviewed on effects of environmental factors and land use on SOM deficiency. Findings were combined into nine options for a risk indicator on SOM deficiency, mapped at European scale. For objective 2, a farm survey was done among 1452 arable farmers in five European countries (Belgium, Germany, Austria, Spain and Italy). Associations between perceived deficiency of SOM by farmers and environmental factors, land use and the risk indicator were investigated. For objective 3, farmers' perceptions on SOM deficiency were related to the average SOM content of their fields. Mapping the risk indicator at European scale gives a high to very high risk of SOM deficiency for 7 to 37{\%} of European agricultural land, mainly located in Southern and Eastern Europe. Of the farmers in our survey, 18{\%} perceived a high to very high SOM deficiency. A weak correlation was found between the risk indicator and farmers' perceptions of SOM deficiency (0.15-0.18, Spearman's rank correlation). Stronger relations were found between separate environmental factors and perceived SOM deficiency. Apparently, having a more extreme environmental condition for one factor gives a higher chance of perceiving a deficiency of SOM than a combination of moderate environmental conditions. Based on farmers' perceptions threshold intervals for SOM content were established (sand: 1.2–4.7{\%}, loam: 0.6–2.6{\%} and clay: 1.0–2.4{\%}). If policies on SOM management want to include benefits for productive capacity, targeting areas with a relatively high risk of SOM deficiency, more extreme environmental conditions or with very low SOM contents (below the given threshold intervals) seems most promising.",
keywords = "Agriculture, Arable farming, Critical level, Crops, Europe, Farmers' perceptions, Land use, Productive capacity, Risk indicator, Soil organic carbon, Soil organic matter, SOM deficiency, Threshold value",
author = "R. Hijbeek and A. Cormont and G. Hazeu and L. Bechini and L. Zavattaro and B. Janssen and M. Werner and N. Schlatter and Gema Guzm{\'a}n and J. Bijttebier and A.A. Pronk and {van Eupen}, M. and {van Ittersum}, M.K.",
year = "2017",
doi = "10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.08.023",
language = "English",
volume = "83",
pages = "390--403",
journal = "Ecological Indicators",
issn = "1470-160X",
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Do farmers perceive a deficiency of soil organic matter? A European and farm level analysis. / Hijbeek, R.; Cormont, A.; Hazeu, G.; Bechini, L.; Zavattaro, L.; Janssen, B.; Werner, M.; Schlatter, N.; Guzmán, Gema; Bijttebier, J.; Pronk, A.A.; van Eupen, M.; van Ittersum, M.K.

In: Ecological Indicators, Vol. 83, 2017, p. 390-403.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Do farmers perceive a deficiency of soil organic matter? A European and farm level analysis

AU - Hijbeek, R.

AU - Cormont, A.

AU - Hazeu, G.

AU - Bechini, L.

AU - Zavattaro, L.

AU - Janssen, B.

AU - Werner, M.

AU - Schlatter, N.

AU - Guzmán, Gema

AU - Bijttebier, J.

AU - Pronk, A.A.

AU - van Eupen, M.

AU - van Ittersum, M.K.

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - Agricultural soils with too little soil organic matter (SOM) content are characterized by fertility problems. A number of authors have tried to specify threshold values for SOM content to indicate what is ‘too little', ranging from 1 to 5%, below which yields may be affected. How much SOM content is sufficient, however, depends on a number of environmental factors. In addition, up to date farmers' perceptions were not included when developing thresholds. Therefore, this study focuses on the following three objectives: (1) to identify a risk indicator on SOM deficiency based on environmental factors and agricultural land use; (2) to test the risk indicator using farmers' perceptions and (3) to establish threshold values for SOM content based on farmers' perceptions. For objective 1, literature was reviewed on effects of environmental factors and land use on SOM deficiency. Findings were combined into nine options for a risk indicator on SOM deficiency, mapped at European scale. For objective 2, a farm survey was done among 1452 arable farmers in five European countries (Belgium, Germany, Austria, Spain and Italy). Associations between perceived deficiency of SOM by farmers and environmental factors, land use and the risk indicator were investigated. For objective 3, farmers' perceptions on SOM deficiency were related to the average SOM content of their fields. Mapping the risk indicator at European scale gives a high to very high risk of SOM deficiency for 7 to 37% of European agricultural land, mainly located in Southern and Eastern Europe. Of the farmers in our survey, 18% perceived a high to very high SOM deficiency. A weak correlation was found between the risk indicator and farmers' perceptions of SOM deficiency (0.15-0.18, Spearman's rank correlation). Stronger relations were found between separate environmental factors and perceived SOM deficiency. Apparently, having a more extreme environmental condition for one factor gives a higher chance of perceiving a deficiency of SOM than a combination of moderate environmental conditions. Based on farmers' perceptions threshold intervals for SOM content were established (sand: 1.2–4.7%, loam: 0.6–2.6% and clay: 1.0–2.4%). If policies on SOM management want to include benefits for productive capacity, targeting areas with a relatively high risk of SOM deficiency, more extreme environmental conditions or with very low SOM contents (below the given threshold intervals) seems most promising.

AB - Agricultural soils with too little soil organic matter (SOM) content are characterized by fertility problems. A number of authors have tried to specify threshold values for SOM content to indicate what is ‘too little', ranging from 1 to 5%, below which yields may be affected. How much SOM content is sufficient, however, depends on a number of environmental factors. In addition, up to date farmers' perceptions were not included when developing thresholds. Therefore, this study focuses on the following three objectives: (1) to identify a risk indicator on SOM deficiency based on environmental factors and agricultural land use; (2) to test the risk indicator using farmers' perceptions and (3) to establish threshold values for SOM content based on farmers' perceptions. For objective 1, literature was reviewed on effects of environmental factors and land use on SOM deficiency. Findings were combined into nine options for a risk indicator on SOM deficiency, mapped at European scale. For objective 2, a farm survey was done among 1452 arable farmers in five European countries (Belgium, Germany, Austria, Spain and Italy). Associations between perceived deficiency of SOM by farmers and environmental factors, land use and the risk indicator were investigated. For objective 3, farmers' perceptions on SOM deficiency were related to the average SOM content of their fields. Mapping the risk indicator at European scale gives a high to very high risk of SOM deficiency for 7 to 37% of European agricultural land, mainly located in Southern and Eastern Europe. Of the farmers in our survey, 18% perceived a high to very high SOM deficiency. A weak correlation was found between the risk indicator and farmers' perceptions of SOM deficiency (0.15-0.18, Spearman's rank correlation). Stronger relations were found between separate environmental factors and perceived SOM deficiency. Apparently, having a more extreme environmental condition for one factor gives a higher chance of perceiving a deficiency of SOM than a combination of moderate environmental conditions. Based on farmers' perceptions threshold intervals for SOM content were established (sand: 1.2–4.7%, loam: 0.6–2.6% and clay: 1.0–2.4%). If policies on SOM management want to include benefits for productive capacity, targeting areas with a relatively high risk of SOM deficiency, more extreme environmental conditions or with very low SOM contents (below the given threshold intervals) seems most promising.

KW - Agriculture

KW - Arable farming

KW - Critical level

KW - Crops

KW - Europe

KW - Farmers' perceptions

KW - Land use

KW - Productive capacity

KW - Risk indicator

KW - Soil organic carbon

KW - Soil organic matter

KW - SOM deficiency

KW - Threshold value

U2 - 10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.08.023

DO - 10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.08.023

M3 - Article

VL - 83

SP - 390

EP - 403

JO - Ecological Indicators

JF - Ecological Indicators

SN - 1470-160X

ER -