How much is policy driving the adoption of cover crops? Evidence from four EU regions

Jonas Kathage*, Bert Smit, Bas Janssens, Wiepie Haagsma, Jose Luis Adrados

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


EU agriculture is facing increasing expectations and pressure from society and policymakers to support environmental protection and climate change mitigation. Catch and cover crops (CCC) are an underused farming practice that can potentially contribute towards these goals. Previous research is sparse and has yielded few relevant insights into CCC adoption behaviour by farmers. In this study we analyse a dataset from farm surveys in four EU regions to better understand the role of policy and non-policy factors in CCC adoption. Our data suggests that adoption rates vary widely between regions, while farm adoption intensities are low. We find that policy is by far the strongest determinant of adoption rates and adoption intensities. CCC adoption patterns have been shaped mainly by the Nitrates Directive and the Common Agricultural Policy's greening requirements. Agronomic motives are a third but much weaker impetus for adoption. Environmental and climate change considerations do not play a significant role in farmers' adoption decisions. Most non-adopters would likely become adopters if stronger policy obligations or additional subsidies were implemented. Non-adopters‘ responsiveness to subsidies and willingness to accept is highly varied but only weakly predictable from easily observed farm characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106016
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Agricultural policy
  • Climate change
  • Cover crops
  • Environment
  • Farm survey
  • Greening
  • Nitrates Directive
  • Technology adoption
  • Willingness to accept


Dive into the research topics of 'How much is policy driving the adoption of cover crops? Evidence from four EU regions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this