Land fragmentation in agriculture – causes, consequences and measures (LANDFRAG)

The Landfrag project is about mapping the land fragmentation on Norwegian farms and finding measures that can help reduce the problem. Land fragmentation is an increasing challenge in agriculture in many countries as the farms get bigger, and Norway is no exception.

The project has been ongoing for 2.5 years and has 1 year left before it ends. As of November 2019, the project has held local meetings in 7 of the 8 exploration counties. These meetings have been planned in collaboration with key local actors such as the Norwegian Agricultural Advisory Services(NLR), the municipality, farmers’ unions and the County governor. The actors that have engaged and the degree of engagement have varied, due to that challenges vary with type of production (specialized plant production versus coarse-based livestock productions). The challenges are also experienced as greater in marginal agricultural areas than in good agricultural areas. Regardless, the project has shown that land fragmentation is perceived as a significant challenge and growing problem in Norwegian agriculture, both by farmers, supervisors and the authorities. The challenge is to come from observing the problem to do something about it. One thing is to technically (on a map) exchange land parcels between farmers. Another thing is to make such an exchange in reality, since it also has human, social, legal and economic aspects. Actors who want to do something about the problem must therefore proceed with caution. Through the local meetings, we can point to a set of three appropriate measures. One is to produce a map of a local area to illustrate which plots of land are used by which farmers and transport distances. The second measure is based on such maps to calculate the cost of the current transport pattern and what one could save by changing the distribution of the land parcels among farmers in the area. The third important tool is how to engage not only farmers, but also land owners. The project has worked with all these tools in various work packages.

In WP1, NIBIO has created map models in the local areas and is working on a report that documents how such maps can be made based on various data sources and digital tools. In WP2, NIBIO is in the process of creating an economical calculation model in Excel that can be used by local supervisors. In WP3, Ruralis has in 2019 published a report which shows through a representative survey how Norwegian farmers experience land fragmentation and views on various measures. This quantitative survey has been complemented in the autumn of 2019 by qualitative interviews with farmers and owners. Some of the interviews are with farmers who have voluntarily exchanged farmland. In addition, NMBU, Department of Real Estate and Law, has prepared two scientific articles on land renting, land consolidation and exchange of land parcels. In WP4, Nordland Research Institute has conducted local meetings in 7 of the 8 study areas. This has provided important knowledge about which actors can contribute in local processes and how farmers and land owners should be contacted and mobilized. In WP5, Ruralis has organized the work of creating a Road Map (Veileder) to summarize critical knowledge from the above work packages and to be used as a template for local projects.

Essential tasks in the final year of the project (1.12.2019-30.11.2020) will be to complete publications, including international scientific articles, the Road Map, local meetings in the last county (Møre og Romsdal) and to communicate conclusions from the project in the media and to relevant users. Included in this will be utilizing contact with the two international partners on the project, LUKE in Finland and Agroscope in Switzerland.

Updated 30.11.19