Finnish farming, typology and economics

Finnish farming, typology and economics

Agriculture and Environment, 4 (1978/1979) 311--320 311 © Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, Amsterdam -- Printed in The Netherlands Book Re~e...

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Agriculture and Environment, 4 (1978/1979) 311--320


© Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, Amsterdam -- Printed in The Netherlands

Book Re~ews FA R M I NG IN F I NL A N D

Finnish Farming ' Typology and Economics. Geography of World Agriculture, No. 6. V. Varjo, Akademiai Kiado, Budapest, 1977, 146 pp., 7 tables, 67 figs, US $ 9.00, ISBN 963-05-1203-3.

This b o o k is seventh in a series on the geography of world agriculture sponsored b y the Research Institute of Geography, Hungarian Academy of Science. Finland is located in the northern limit of agriculture in Europe between latitudes 60 ° and 70°N and longitudes 19 ° and 31.5 ° E. A third o f the country lengthwise lies in the Arctic Circle. The northern location of Finland causes its agriculture, arable farming especially, to be faced with material climatic risks. One strategy for meeting these risks is diversification exemplified b y forests and herds of cattle blended with field crops. While agriculture employs a minority of the population at the national level, over 50% is employed in farming in the Lake Region and the provinces of Oulu and Karelia. Finland is mainly flat with an average above sea level of only 152 m. It has small fluctuations in topography. Large areas are composed o.f peat land. Summer frost is a micro-climate phenomenon. Most precipitation in the winter is snow which reaches a depth of 70 cm in Northern Kainuu and 40--50 cm in Central Finland. Conditions for agriculture vary considerably from north to south. After describing the natural characterizing Finnish agriculture, the author then reviews and analyses the social and technical background of farming, and the types and regions of Finnish farming. Agriculture in Finland is based on a system of small, freehold land holdings of long tradition, while 70% of farms are these spontaneously formed units, 30% evolved from State settlement programs. State creation o f new forms began when it arranged for purchase of lands rented b y tenants. Liberation of tenant farmers did not solve all problems of the countryside. New settlement laws, 'Lex Kallio', were enacted in 1922 and 1936 to provide farms to landless workers. Following World War II the Resettlement Act and Land Acquisition Act were used to a c c o m m o d a t e refugee families from areas ceded to the Soviet Union. A Land Fertilization Act was passed in 1958 to improve operating conditions o f small farms. In the nineteen-fifties, agricultural production began to exceed demand at price levels acceptable to farmers. To restrain production, farmers were provided a "field reservation s y s t e m " to remove land from crop production. This program continued through 1973. A b o u t 8.7% o f the field area was in reservation over the period 1969--1973. The recent trend is toward mechanization, although there are m a n y small farms and this technology is a late development. Most of the agricultural districts doubled fertilizer use between 1962 and 1971.


A b o u t 30% of land is owned by the government. The majority of this is state forests. The majority of farms have a small field area (less than 15 ha). Large regional variations in farm size prevail. Farming is generally linked with forestry. Forest area per farm ranges from less than 15 ha in a few southern districts to more than 65 ha in the north. A wide variety of crops is grown, due especially to the small size of farms and low e m p l o y m e n t of labor. Cultivated grassland makes up 46.2% of field area, grain cultivation 43.4% and potatoes and root crops 3.2%. Wheat grows mainly on clay soils. Barley and oats o c c u p y nearly three times as much land as does wheat. On a 1972 basis, the following c r o p yields (kg/ha) were necessary for profitable production: winter wheat -- 2050, spring wheat -- 1900, barley -- 2675, mowing grass -- 3175, sugar beet -- 27,800, potatoes -- 19, 545. The author provides interesting details on the gross margin (gross return less variable costs) per acre b y crop and district of the country and also t y p e of farm. Regional analysis is made of animal husbandry. He shows, by regions the number of horses, cows per farm, the percentage of all farms represented b y cattle farms, milk yields per cow, gross returns per farm from dairying, and gross margin per farm from dairying. He also displays b y region average annual timber yield per farm. He analyzes the basic types of farming including: forestry, forest--dairy, dairy--cereals, and cereals--industrial crops. He also characterizes the regions of Finland b y the types of farming which predominate in each. In a relatively short space, the author has made an excellent summary analysis of Finnish agriculture. He has given a rather complete economic and social background of farming causing the reader to be rather well acquainted with the structure and viability of agriculture in the various regions o f the country. He successfully blends the physical, climatic, geographic economic and institutional dimensions of agriculture in a spatial sense. The b o o k is not highly analytical, b u t as a general b o o k of the series, it is not supposed to be. EARL O. HEADY

(Ames, Iowa U.S.A.)


Food, Fertilizer and Agricultural Residues: Proceedings of the 1977 Cornell Agricultural Waste Management Conference. R a y m o n d C. Loehr (Editor), Ann Arbor Science Publishers, Ann Arbor, Mich., 1977, 727 pp., £20.50, US $ 32.50, ISBN 0-250-40190-8. The purpose of the 9th Annual Cornell Agricultural Waste Management Conference was " t o explore approaches to (a) utilizing the nutrient and energy resources in municipal and agricultural residues, (b) decreasing the losses of fertilizer nutrients, and (c) avoiding environmental problems caused b y resi-