Monday, 04 November 2019 10:57

Norwegian workshop on adopting SICS farm management

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Frederik presents findings from the Øsaker study site. Photo credit: Kamilla Skaalsveen

The 4th Norwegian stakeholder workshop took place at NIBIO’s office in Oslo on the 13th of March 2019. Twelve people participated all together; five from NIBIO and seven external stakeholders. These included farmers, the board leader of the National Farmers Union, advisory service representatives and a representative from the Royal Norwegian Society for Development.

The workshop started with an introduction by researcher Kamilla Skaalsveen and a presentation of the SoilCare project by Jannes Stolte as a general reminder and an update on the progress of the project since last stakeholder meeting. Frederik Bøe and Till Seehusen followed by providing an update from the two study sites (Solør-Odal and Øsaker) to inform the participants about activities and results from 2018 and experimental plans for 2019.

The participants were asked to describe the SICS being tested in the Norwegian study sites (cover crops in general and cover crops to alleviate compaction) and the expected benefits/impacts. Some of these included getting subsidies, improving yield via N input and both cutting costs and increasing income as a result as well as improving soil quality and carbon storage. Risks were associated with competition between cover crops and the main crop, pests and diseases increasing, and the need to apply glyphosate to kill off cover crops.

Following this, the participants were then asked to identify enablers and barriers to the adoption of cover crops in Norway. Different categories were written on a flip chart including economic conditions, biophysical conditions, technical barriers, knowledge/information, social/cultural factors, institutional and policy environment and “other”. For each of the categories, the different enablers and barriers were written down on post-it notes that were attached to the sheets.

Potential measures to remove barriers to cover crops were then identified and discussed:

Stakeholder workshop Table1
Measures to improve the facilitation of cover crops were further identified as:

Stakeholder workshop Table2
Currently, there is no legislation in Norway to protect and enhance soil quality. Therefore, the final part of the workshop was spent discussing how this could be improved.

The participants identified that there is a need for improved legislation, reaching beyond the aim of the existing National Soil Protection Strategy (which aims to ensure that the annual reassignment of fertile soil is limited to 400 ha by 2020). The overall aim for policies and instruments should seek to protect and conserve soil and soil quality for future generations rather than short term effects – either through educational or financial support.

To ensure policy makers are well-informed in developing new legislations for soil health the participants identified the following:

  • Better disseminate soil health research
  • Include soil quality and health in agricultural education
  • Give more advice and training to farmers and farmer organisations on soil health
  • Have more detailed advice about soil available i.e. not just about degradation, and give a wider perspective of its importance beyond farming
  • Better inform policy that soil is dynamic and living, not static so that policy can reflect this
  • Policy should be developed with long-term thinking 

Concluding remark: There is a general lack of attention towards protection of soil quality in Norway. The focus is on area protection (loss of agricultural land to urbanization) in the public as well as politically.

For more information about the Norwegian Study Site, please contact Jannes Stolte This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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