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Perceived Causes and Solutions to Soil Degradation in the UK and Norway

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  • Niki Rust, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
  • Ole Erik Lunder, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway
  • Sara Vangerschov Iversen
  • Steven Vella, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • Elizabeth Oughton, University of Newcastle, United Kingdom
  • Tor Arvid Breland, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, United Kingdom
  • Jayne H. Glass, Scotland's Rural College, United Kingdom
  • Carly M. Maynard, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), United Kingdom
  • Rob McMorran, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), United Kingdom
  • Mark S. Reed, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), United Kingdom
Abstract: Soil quality is declining in many parts of the world, with implications for the productivity,
resilience and sustainability of agri-food systems. Research suggests multiple causes of soil degradation
with no single solution and a divided stakeholder opinion on how to manage this problem. However,
creating socially acceptable and effective policies to halt soil degradation requires engagement
with a diverse range of stakeholders who possess different and complementary knowledge, experiences
and perspectives. To understand how British and Norwegian agricultural stakeholders perceived
the causes of and solutions to soil degradation, we used Q-methodology with 114 respondents,
including farmers, scientists and agricultural advisers. For the UK, respondents thought the causes
were due to loss of soil structure, soil erosion, compaction and loss of organic matter; the perceived
solutions were to develop more collaborative research between researchers and farmers, invest in
training, improve trust between farmers and regulatory agencies, and reduce soil compaction. In Norway,
respondents thought soils were degrading due to soil erosion, monocultures and loss of soil
structure; they believed the solutions were to reduce compaction, increase rotation and invest in agricultural
training. There was an overarching theme related to industrialised agriculture being responsible
for declining soil quality in both countries. We highlight potential areas for land use policy development
in Norway and the UK, including multi-actor approaches that may improve the social acceptance
of these policies. This study also illustrates how Q-methodology may be used to co-produce
stakeholder-driven policy options to address land degradation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number131
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

    Research areas

  • Conservation agriculture, Deliberative democracy, Q-methodology, Regenerative agricul-ture, Soil conservation, Sustainable land management, QUALITY, sustainable land management, q-methodology, EROSION, conservation agriculture, soil conservation, regenerative agriculture, FRAMEWORK, deliberative democracy

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