Evergreen Revolution with Cover Crops (IKIVIHREÄ)
Cover crops enable soft structural change of Finnish agriculture. Implementation of change calls for participatory approach, comprehensive understanding, systems thinking and sharing of the best practices. Cover crops are a diverse group of crops and crop mixtures used as undersown, catch, renovation and winter cover crops. In addition to C sequestration, cover crops improve resilience to climate change and provide ecosystem services for soil structure and functioning, nutrient and water management, weed control, biodiversity and reduction of environmental footprint. Cover crops are the key measure for climate smart agriculture and sustainable intensification. Crop production farms suffer more than cattle farms from monotonous land use. Hence, farms without perennial grasslands are primary targets for large scale implementation of cover crops. Cover crops are underutilized and hence, they have substantial potential for expansion to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. Cover crops are, however, challenging for farmers. They are a diverse group with many alternative means for usage, they have various impacts on production systems, and they are very context dependent. Luke’s farmer surveys indicated farmers’ readiness to change land use, but also need for further motivation, tailored support systems and incentives. Evergreen Revolution project is strongly participatory and built to support large-scale implementation of cover crops across Finland. The project identifies farmers’ needs, success-stories and bottlenecks regarding use of cover crops. We have pilot farms to execute the experiments, we use remote sensing to expand the studies for volunteered farms and we develop an innovative decision support system to encourage farmers to include cover crops as stable element in their farming systems. By enhancing C sequestration in farms we contribute to the Catch the Carbon development programme and the targets Finland has set to reach carbon neutrality.