The regions which are included in this case study are Flevoland, Zeeland and West-Noord-Brabant in the Netherlands. The regions Zeeland and West-Noord-Brabant are very similar according to agriculture. It’s soil is a clay soil with mostly (for Dutch terms) big farms. Also in the Flevoland region the soil is a clay soil. The most general crops which are grown in these 3 regions are potatoes, sugar beets, cereals and onions. The size of the farms differ from 30 to 325 ha with an average of 115 ha.
In these regions soil compaction is increasing, which leads to bad soil structures. This is mostly due to the fact that machines are getting heavier and actions cannot always be done in the ideal circumstances. This has in the end an effect on the crops. Especially in seasons with extreme weather conditions the effect is visible. Therefore, some farmers have switched to non-inverse tillage. In these regions the switch to non-inverse tillage is not because of soil-erosion like in some sandy regions of the Netherlands, but solely for the purpose of improving soil structure.
This study focusses on the role of advice in the adoption of non-inverse tillage as a measure for soil improvement in the Netherlands. In non-inverse tillage the soil is not tilled therefore the soil-life is able to develop itself without being interrupted or destroyed. This would create a better soil structure which would result in a more robust soil.
Non inverse tillage is an innovation that impacts the farming system in a profound way. It requires new knowledge, new techniques and a new perspective on farming. In the Netherlands there are only a few farmers applying non-inverse tillage just to improve their soil structure and soil-life. In the case study 9 adopters, 13 non-adopters and 1 dropper of non-inverse soil tillage were interviewed.
The general micro-AKIS of a farmer predominantly consists of contact with other farmers and advisors. The contact with other farmers could consist of a study group or direct contact with befriended or neighbouring farmers. At 16 of these 23 farms advise is provided by an independent. Additionally also dependent advisors for example suppliers or traders visit the farm and provide advice. All farmers are satisfied about their general micro-AKIS. If they would not be satisfied, it would be easy to go to another advisor in most cases.
Full report is available here.
Wageningen Research (WR) Field Crops has vast experience in conducting applied research in agriculture together with other research organizations, farmers and advisory providers. Since 2009 WR Field Crops has been conducting a field trial on non-inverse tillage.