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Open AccessArticle

Farmers’ Perspective on Agriculture and Environmental Change in the Circumpolar North of Europe and America

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Thünen Institute of Climate-Smart Agriculture, Bundesallee 68, 38116 Braunschweig, Germany
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Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, ON K1A 0C6, Canada
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Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science, RAS, Institutskaya st. 2, 142290 Pushchino, Russia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2019, 8(12), 190; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8120190
Received: 18 November 2019 / Revised: 3 December 2019 / Accepted: 6 December 2019 / Published: 9 December 2019
Climate change may increase the importance of agriculture in the global Circumpolar North with potentially critical implications for pristine northern ecosystems and global biogeochemical cycles. With this in mind, a global online survey was conducted to understand northern agriculture and farmers’ perspective on environmental change north of 60° N. In the obtained dataset with 67 valid answers, Alaska and the Canadian territories were dominated by small-scale vegetable, herbs, hay, and flower farms; the Atlantic Islands were dominated by sheep farms; and Fennoscandia was dominated by cereal farming. In Alaska and Canada, farmers had mostly immigrated with hardly any background in farming, while farmers in Fennoscandia and on the Atlantic Islands mostly continued family traditions. Accordingly, the average time since conversion from native land was 28 ± 28 and 25 ± 12 years in Alaska and Canada, respectively, but 301 ± 291 and 255 ± 155 years on the Atlantic Islands and in Fennoscandia, respectively, revealing that American northern agriculture is expanding. Climate change was observed by 84% of all farmers, of which 67% have already started adapting their farming practices, by introducing new varieties or altering timings. Fourteen farmers reported permafrost on their land, with 50% observing more shallow permafrost on uncultivated land than on cultivated land. Cultivation might thus accelerate permafrost thawing, potentially with associated consequences for biogeochemical cycles and greenhouse gas emissions. About 87% of the surveyed farmers produced for the local market, reducing emissions of food transport. The dynamics of northern land-use change and agriculture with associated environmental changes should be closely monitored. The dataset is available for further investigations. View Full-Text
Keywords: northern agriculture; farming systems; climate change; climate adaptation; land-use change; survey; permafrost northern agriculture; farming systems; climate change; climate adaptation; land-use change; survey; permafrost
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Poeplau, C.; Schroeder, J.; Gregorich, E.; Kurganova, I. Farmers’ Perspective on Agriculture and Environmental Change in the Circumpolar North of Europe and America. Land 2019, 8, 190.

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  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Doi: 10.17605/OSF.IO/J9TY5
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