Use of organic inputs by arable farmers in six agro-ecological zones across Europe: Drivers and barriers

R. Hijbeek, A.A. Pronk, M.K. van Ittersum, A. Verhagen, G. Ruysschaert, J. Bijttebier, L. Zavattaro, L. Bechini, N. Schlatter, H.F.M. ten Berge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Soil organic matter (SOM) in agricultural soils builds up via – among others - the use of organic inputs such as straw, compost, farmyard manure or the cultivation of green manures or cover crops. SOM has benefits for long-term soil fertility and can provide ecosystem services. Farmer behaviour is however known to be motivated by a larger number of factors. Using the theory of planned behaviour, we aimed to disentangle these factors. We addressed the following research question: What are currently the main drivers and barriers for arable farmers in Europe to use organic inputs? Our study focuses on six agro-ecological zones in four European countries (Austria, Flanders [Belgium], Italy and the Netherlands) and four practices (straw incorporation, green manure or cover crops, compost and farmyard manure). In a first step, relevant factors were identified for each practice with farmers using 5 to ten semi-structured interviews per agro-ecological zone. In a second step, the relevance of these factors was quantified and they were classified as either drivers or barriers in a large scale farm survey with 1263 farmers. In the semi-structured interviews, 110 factors that influenced farmer decisions to use an organic input were identified. In the larger farm survey, 60% of the factors included were evaluated as drivers, while 40% were evaluated as barriers for the use of organic inputs. Major drivers to use organic inputs were related to the perceived effects on soil quality (such as improved soil structure or reduced erosion) and the positive influence from social referents (such as fellow farmers or agricultural advisors). Major barriers to use organic inputs were financial (increased costs or foregone income) and perceived effects on crop protection (such as increased weeds, pests and diseases, or increased pesticide use). Our study shows that motivating farmers to use organic inputs requires specific guidance on how to adapt cultivation practices to reduce weeds, pests and diseases for specific soil types, weather conditions, and crops. In addition, more research is needed on the long-term financial consequences of using organic inputs.

LanguageEnglish
Pages42-53
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Volume275
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

Fingerprint

agroecological zones
cover crop
compost
straw
weed
soil organic matter
manure
farm
farmers
soil structure
soil quality
agricultural soil
ecosystem service
soil fertility
soil type
pesticide
farm surveys
income
erosion
green manures

Keywords

  • Barriers
  • Compost
  • Drivers
  • Europe
  • Manure
  • Straw

Cite this

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title = "Use of organic inputs by arable farmers in six agro-ecological zones across Europe: Drivers and barriers",
abstract = "Soil organic matter (SOM) in agricultural soils builds up via – among others - the use of organic inputs such as straw, compost, farmyard manure or the cultivation of green manures or cover crops. SOM has benefits for long-term soil fertility and can provide ecosystem services. Farmer behaviour is however known to be motivated by a larger number of factors. Using the theory of planned behaviour, we aimed to disentangle these factors. We addressed the following research question: What are currently the main drivers and barriers for arable farmers in Europe to use organic inputs? Our study focuses on six agro-ecological zones in four European countries (Austria, Flanders [Belgium], Italy and the Netherlands) and four practices (straw incorporation, green manure or cover crops, compost and farmyard manure). In a first step, relevant factors were identified for each practice with farmers using 5 to ten semi-structured interviews per agro-ecological zone. In a second step, the relevance of these factors was quantified and they were classified as either drivers or barriers in a large scale farm survey with 1263 farmers. In the semi-structured interviews, 110 factors that influenced farmer decisions to use an organic input were identified. In the larger farm survey, 60{\%} of the factors included were evaluated as drivers, while 40{\%} were evaluated as barriers for the use of organic inputs. Major drivers to use organic inputs were related to the perceived effects on soil quality (such as improved soil structure or reduced erosion) and the positive influence from social referents (such as fellow farmers or agricultural advisors). Major barriers to use organic inputs were financial (increased costs or foregone income) and perceived effects on crop protection (such as increased weeds, pests and diseases, or increased pesticide use). Our study shows that motivating farmers to use organic inputs requires specific guidance on how to adapt cultivation practices to reduce weeds, pests and diseases for specific soil types, weather conditions, and crops. In addition, more research is needed on the long-term financial consequences of using organic inputs.",
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Use of organic inputs by arable farmers in six agro-ecological zones across Europe : Drivers and barriers. / Hijbeek, R.; Pronk, A.A.; van Ittersum, M.K.; Verhagen, A.; Ruysschaert, G.; Bijttebier, J.; Zavattaro, L.; Bechini, L.; Schlatter, N.; ten Berge, H.F.M.

In: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, Vol. 275, 01.04.2019, p. 42-53.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Use of organic inputs by arable farmers in six agro-ecological zones across Europe

T2 - Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment

AU - Hijbeek, R.

AU - Pronk, A.A.

AU - van Ittersum, M.K.

AU - Verhagen, A.

AU - Ruysschaert, G.

AU - Bijttebier, J.

AU - Zavattaro, L.

AU - Bechini, L.

AU - Schlatter, N.

AU - ten Berge, H.F.M.

PY - 2019/4/1

Y1 - 2019/4/1

N2 - Soil organic matter (SOM) in agricultural soils builds up via – among others - the use of organic inputs such as straw, compost, farmyard manure or the cultivation of green manures or cover crops. SOM has benefits for long-term soil fertility and can provide ecosystem services. Farmer behaviour is however known to be motivated by a larger number of factors. Using the theory of planned behaviour, we aimed to disentangle these factors. We addressed the following research question: What are currently the main drivers and barriers for arable farmers in Europe to use organic inputs? Our study focuses on six agro-ecological zones in four European countries (Austria, Flanders [Belgium], Italy and the Netherlands) and four practices (straw incorporation, green manure or cover crops, compost and farmyard manure). In a first step, relevant factors were identified for each practice with farmers using 5 to ten semi-structured interviews per agro-ecological zone. In a second step, the relevance of these factors was quantified and they were classified as either drivers or barriers in a large scale farm survey with 1263 farmers. In the semi-structured interviews, 110 factors that influenced farmer decisions to use an organic input were identified. In the larger farm survey, 60% of the factors included were evaluated as drivers, while 40% were evaluated as barriers for the use of organic inputs. Major drivers to use organic inputs were related to the perceived effects on soil quality (such as improved soil structure or reduced erosion) and the positive influence from social referents (such as fellow farmers or agricultural advisors). Major barriers to use organic inputs were financial (increased costs or foregone income) and perceived effects on crop protection (such as increased weeds, pests and diseases, or increased pesticide use). Our study shows that motivating farmers to use organic inputs requires specific guidance on how to adapt cultivation practices to reduce weeds, pests and diseases for specific soil types, weather conditions, and crops. In addition, more research is needed on the long-term financial consequences of using organic inputs.

AB - Soil organic matter (SOM) in agricultural soils builds up via – among others - the use of organic inputs such as straw, compost, farmyard manure or the cultivation of green manures or cover crops. SOM has benefits for long-term soil fertility and can provide ecosystem services. Farmer behaviour is however known to be motivated by a larger number of factors. Using the theory of planned behaviour, we aimed to disentangle these factors. We addressed the following research question: What are currently the main drivers and barriers for arable farmers in Europe to use organic inputs? Our study focuses on six agro-ecological zones in four European countries (Austria, Flanders [Belgium], Italy and the Netherlands) and four practices (straw incorporation, green manure or cover crops, compost and farmyard manure). In a first step, relevant factors were identified for each practice with farmers using 5 to ten semi-structured interviews per agro-ecological zone. In a second step, the relevance of these factors was quantified and they were classified as either drivers or barriers in a large scale farm survey with 1263 farmers. In the semi-structured interviews, 110 factors that influenced farmer decisions to use an organic input were identified. In the larger farm survey, 60% of the factors included were evaluated as drivers, while 40% were evaluated as barriers for the use of organic inputs. Major drivers to use organic inputs were related to the perceived effects on soil quality (such as improved soil structure or reduced erosion) and the positive influence from social referents (such as fellow farmers or agricultural advisors). Major barriers to use organic inputs were financial (increased costs or foregone income) and perceived effects on crop protection (such as increased weeds, pests and diseases, or increased pesticide use). Our study shows that motivating farmers to use organic inputs requires specific guidance on how to adapt cultivation practices to reduce weeds, pests and diseases for specific soil types, weather conditions, and crops. In addition, more research is needed on the long-term financial consequences of using organic inputs.

KW - Barriers

KW - Compost

KW - Drivers

KW - Europe

KW - Manure

KW - Straw

U2 - 10.1016/j.agee.2019.01.008

DO - 10.1016/j.agee.2019.01.008

M3 - Article

VL - 275

SP - 42

EP - 53

JO - Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment

JF - Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment

SN - 0167-8809

ER -