- freely available
Sustainability 2012, 4(12), 3387-3403; https://doi.org/10.3390/su4123387
2. Alternative and Conventional Agriculture
|Elements of the paradigm||Alternative agriculture||Conventional agriculture|
|Relationship to nature||Harmony with nature||Control over nature|
|Environmental quality||A holistic perception of the environment: agricultural land as part of a larger ecosystem||A narrow perception of the environment: agricultural land managed separately from the surrounding ecosystem|
|Resource base||An emphasis on the existing local resource base; nutrient cycles and organic material form the basis for the maintenance of the resource base||The resource base can and should be supplemented whenever necessary and economically rational by external inputs|
|Provision of food and fiber||Major concern for basic human needs||Economic profitability as reflected by (possibly subsidized) market prices should determine what and how much is produced|
|Economy of the farm||A steady state or moderate “natural” growth||Profit-driven growth at the same or higher rate than in society at large|
|Living conditions of farmers||Farming as social and spiritual experience; the spiritual experience as important as the economic rewards for production||Farmers as entrepreneurs able to ensure their standard of living by making sufficient profit from production|
|Relationship between farmers||A community with shared values and a strong sense of community and mutual assistance||A community with shared values, which nevertheless competes within markets|
|Role of farming in society||Farming as part and parcel of the society based on well-being, producing both food and a wide array of public goods, including landscape, maintenance of biodiversity, recreational opportunities, etc.||Farming as a necessary part of the well functioning society ensuring the food supply, offering employment and the basis for a prosperous industry that contributes to economic well-being|
3. The Sustainability Agenda in Finnish Agricultural Policy
|Year||Percent of total GDP||Percent of total employment||Number of farms||Arable land (1000 ha)||Average arable land by farm (ha)||Organic farms, % of all farms|
3.1. The Evolution of Sustainable Agriculture as a Macro-Policy Objective
|Internal discourse||Economy of the farm, production of food and fiber||Economy of the farm, production of food and fiber, weak recognition of external discourse||Budding interest in organic farming, recognition of the environmental agenda and the importance of the external discourse. [32,33]||Diversity in the discourse, agribusiness vs. family farming. |
Recognition and use of the rural argument and the living country-side. Dialogue with the external discourse and the emergence of Agenda 2000 .
|External discourse||Internal discourse generally accepted, early recognition of impacts of biocides||Recognition of water pollution by nutrients, budding debate||Widening environmental agenda: concern for biodiversity and rural issues, rise of the sustainability agenda in food production .||Life cycle analysis, global issues, including climate change, search for novel solutions: bioenergy; biogas|
3.2. Monitoring and Implementing Sustainable Agriculture
|Source||Phosphorus Tones/a||Phosphorus Share (%)||Nitrogen Tones/a||Nitrogen Share (%)|
|Point sources (industry, communities)||329||8.2||13,989||20.1|
|Elements of the definition of sustainable agriculture||Indicators proposed by ||Comments on development|
|Relationship to nature||- Use of natural resources |
- Genetic diversity
- Diversity of wild species and landscapes
|- Loss of agricultural biodiversity has been one of the key characteristics of Finnish biodiversity. |
- Between 1980 and 2010 farmland bird populations declined by 40% .
- About 18% of Finland’s threatened species are dependent on agricultural biotopes .
|Environmental quality||- Pesticide use and risk |
- Nutrient emissions into water
- Emissions of greenhouse gases and ammonia
- Groundwater quality
|- Agriculture is the single most significant polluter of water courses in Finland. |
- In 2010 about 68% of the total phosphorus load and 53% of the nitrogen load was caused by agricultural production. The former goal to reduce the total loads from 1995 to 2005 by 50% was not achieved.
- The use of pesticides increased from the 1950s to 1980 fivefold; the use in 2010 was about 70% of the peak level .
- Agriculture produces 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Finland, but between 1990 and 2010 the emissions have declined 11% .
|The resource base||Soil quality||- Soil quality has remained fairly stable since the 1980s, but positive developments have been noted e.g., declining heavy metal contents .|
|Provision of food and fiber||- Regional structure of agricultural production |
- Use of rural products and services
|- Finnish agriculture has generally aimed to produce food and fiber for basic needs. - Production of energy |
-crops has increased, but only a small share of the bioenergy potential of field crop production is utilized .
|The economy of the farm||- Income changes in agriculture |
- Rural entrepreneurship
|- Elaborate systems of subsidies have developed since the 1950s, leading to ever increasing public spending and temporary overproduction of goods (e.g., butter, eggs, milk, and grain). |
- Farms are now diversified through entrepreneurship; also new entrepreneurships (e.g., heat entrepreneurship) gradually evolving .
|The living conditions of the farmer||- Continuation of farming |
- Rural infrastructure and services
|- Views of the future by farmers are produced occasionally; according to a survey, only 56% of farmers aged 50 and over know who will take care of the farm in the future .|
|The relationship between farmers||- Human resources in rural communities||-The number of farms has been declining steadily from more than 330,000 in 1960 to about 62,500 in 2010.|
|The role of farming in society||- Regional development and the welfare of rural areas |
- Consumer awareness
- Quality management and assurance
|- The number of people earning their livelihood in agriculture is declining and the age structure is unfavorable. |
- The share of part-time farms is increasing.
- Consumers have a favorable view of Finnish agricultural produce.
4. Discussion: Future Challenges for Agricultural Sustainability
Conflict of Interest
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