According to the Natual Resources Institute Finland (Luke), nearly 80 per cent of the agricultural area was covered by plants or conservation tilled in winter 2015–2016. A little over 20 per cent of the agricultural area was bare. Roughly 45 per cent of the utilisable agricultural area was covered by crop plants in winter. Nearly one-fifth of the agricultural area was covered by plant residues or stubble, and one-tenth was conservation tilled. Approximately 4 per cent of the area was covered by catch crops or undersown crops.
In 2014–2016, a single annual cultivated plant grew on nearly 300,000 hectares of fields. This area comprises more than one-tenth of the utilisable agricultural area. Information about crop rotation is based on data provided by farmers in conjunction with subsidy applications. In 2008–2010, a single annual cultivated plant grew on approximately 350,000 hectares of fields.
The percentage of bare ground has remained unchanged since winter 2009–2010 when the previous coverage statistics were published. However, the area covered by cultivated plants was eight percentage points lower than six years before.
Half of all fields are ploughed
Ploughing remains the most commonly used tillage method. More than half of the cultivated area was ploughed. Two-thirds of ploughing was carried out in the autumn and one third in the spring. Spring ploughing is used the least in southern Finland. Conservation tillage and direct seeding were used less in northern and eastern Finland.
“Spring ploughing is not suitable for clay soils which are typical in southern Finland”, says Pasi Mattila, senior scientist at Luke.
According to Mattila, conservation tillage and direct seeding are not suitable on dairy farms with large areas of ley. Ploughing is the only method to successfully finish ley and incorporate solid manure into the soil.
Even though the use of catch and undersown crops has increased notably, their area remained at less than 5 per cent of the utilised agricultural area.
The majority of manure is spread as slurry
With regard to slurry spread on fields, more than 40 per cent were injected during spreading, and roughly 13 per cent were spread on the surface using a trailing shoe or a similar spreader. The majority of manure spread on the surface was incorporated after spreading.
Surface water mainly used in irrigation
Irrigation is clearly the most common in horticultural production. In 2016, the area available for irrigation was 20 per cent of the total arable land on farms engaged in horticultural production. In practice, 40 per cent of this area was irrigated due to drought. Precipitation has an impact on the need for irrigation. In addition, irrigation consumes time and energy. As a result, not all irrigated area is irrigated even under dry conditions. Irrigation in greenhouses is not included in the statistics.