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Organic farmers’ motivations and challenges for adopting conservation agriculture in Europe

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Julia Cooper, Catherine Gascoyne


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© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.Conservation agriculture and organic farming are considered as promising sustainable agricultural system for producing food, while minimizing environmental impacts. Despite an increasing number of experimental data on organic conservation practices and various studies dealing with the adoption of conservation agriculture by farmers, none of those studies have specifically addressed conservation agriculture adoption under organic conditions in Europe. We carried out a survey with 159 farmers located in 10 European countries. These farmers had applied at least two of the following conservation practices: (i) no-tillage, (ii) reduced tillage and (iii) green manures. Each farmer assessed socio-economic, agronomic and environmental motivations and problems for each conservation practice, using a Likert scale. For each conservation practice, we ranked motivations and problems and carried out a principal component analysis, followed by clustering to identify groups of farmers. Independent of the conservation practices, the most important motivations were related to soil fertility preservation and challenges were mainly linked to crop management, machinery and yield performances. For all conservation practices, we identify three groups of farmers that shared the same type of motivations and challenges across Europe: “soil conservationists,” “agro-technically challenged farmers,” and “indifferent farmers.” Soil conservationist farmers were strongly motivated by soil preservation and minimizing environmental impacts. Agro-technically challenged farmers mainly expressed agronomic problems and challenges. There were no clear effects of location or farm characteristics explaining these attitudes, but they depended on farmers’ environmental concerns and beliefs. The study demonstrated that research priorities should address agronomic problems caused by the adoption of conservation practices in organic farming, weed control in particular.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Casagrande M, Peigne J, Payet V, Mader P, Sans FX, Blanco-Moreno JM, Antichi D, Barberi P, Beeckman A, Bigongiali F, Cooper J, Dierauer H, Gascoyne K, Grosse M, Hess J, Kranzler A, Luik A, Peetsmann E, Surbock A, Willekens K, David C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Organic Agriculture

Year: 2016

Volume: 6

Issue: 4

Pages: 281-295

Print publication date: 01/12/2016

Online publication date: 17/10/2015

Acceptance date: 12/10/2015

ISSN (print): 1879-4238

ISSN (electronic): 1879-4246

Publisher: Springer Netherlands


DOI: 10.1007/s13165-015-0136-0


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