MARGINAL ARABLE FIELDS IN SWEDEN - AREAS, SHAPES, TRANSPORT DISTANCES AND TIME DEMAND AND COSTS FOR MACHINE OPERATIONS
Of the total arable land area of 2.6 million hectares in Sweden in the year 2017, the acreage of ‘marginal’ or passively used land, such as fallow, low-intensity ley, etc., may amount to half a million hectares. By contrast, the future demand for land for the production of fuels and industrial products is expected to increase. The aims of this study were to characterise arable marginal land in four municipalities in Sweden with regard to e.g. field size, field shape and remoteness, and to compare the time demand and costs for machine operations in ‘marginal’ fields and in ‘normal’ fields. Field work was simulated with a model that mimics the in-field driving pattern of machines.
The results highlighted the fact that what is considered a small field in one part of the country may be considered a ‘large’ field in another part. Furthermore, it was shown that the average parcel area for fallow and low-intensity ley culture was in the range 1-2 ha, which is smaller than for ‘normal’ fields with e.g. cereal crops. Marginal fields often have a more irregular shape, and they are often more distant, but this was also dependent on region and type of landscape. The simulations showed that field area and field shape have significant impacts on time demand and machinery costs. For example, it was shown that the time demand and costs rise steeply for fields smaller than about 2 ha as a result of more time, relatively seen, spent on e.g. turnings.