The principle role of agriculture is to produce food for the increasing human population. However, the environmental footprint needs to be simultaneously reduced. Data from the Finnish Food Authority (181,108 parcels in the south-western crop production region of Finland) were used to identify the farming system, farm type, farm size, field parcel scale, physical parcel characteristics, cultivated crops, crop rotations and cultivars. Sentinel-2 derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values were used to identify fields with very low productivity. Thereby, the impacts of farm and field characteristics on risks of low NDVI values and their associated means of coping by the farmer were studied. High variations in field parcel characteristics and growth capacity were typical in the studied area. Although it is challenging for farmers, high variation can provide many opportunities for the development of multifunctional and resource-smart production systems, e.g., by optimizing land use: allocating high-quality fields for food production, and poorly performing fields for extensification, i.e., the production of environmental benefits. Many usable policy instruments are available to support such a transition, but more focus should be put onto the most efficient means to enable progress towards environmentally, economically and socially sustainable high-latitude agricultural systems.
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