Pilot study at North Savo region

Heikki Lehtonen


Feed crop cultivation dominates land use in North Savo region where the value of dairy milk and beef production is approx. 70 % of the total value of agricultural production. Grass silage is produced on cultivated grasslands through grass-cereal rotations. There are restricted or no markets for silage. Dairy and beef farms, directly dependent on the quantity and quality of silage, are vulnerable to adverse weather conditions. Long-term viability of farming is dependent on the long-term productivity development of feed crop production, and ability to cope with adverse weather conditions, affecting both quality and quantity of feed. Adaptation challenges include more frequent wet and dry conditions, increased pest and disease pressure, and overwintering problems, affecting quantity and quality of grass and cereals harvests. More frequent wet conditions are combined with larger farm size, higher axle loads of heavy machinery, increased risk of soil compaction, and high timeliness costs due to rapidly deteriorating feed quality if not harvested at the right time. Some solutions impose new investments and high costs. Results from bio-physical modeling show a clear need for new cultivars better suited in future climate. Various other solutions discussed with the farmers and extension specialists include improved maintenance of drainage and soil structure, to be promoted by crop rotation, soil improvements such as liming, as well as better crop protection. However, higher grass yields may be realized without considerably increased inter-annual yield variability. Needed long-term investments may thus lead to increased productivity under favorable market and policy conditions.

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