Increasing cover crops in Norwegian small-grain production : a significant step toward sustainable farming systems
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- Master's theses (IPV) 
Cover cropping has been recognised as a farming practise benefiting various ecosystem services and as such, it can help mitigate climate change and soil degradation. In Norway, despite an initial enthusiasm in the early 2000s, the use of cover crops has remained low among small-grain (i.e., cereals, legumes and oilseeds) farmers. This research study investigated what selected small-grain farmers think about cover crops, how and why they started and continue to use them, in the hope that the scaling-up occurs faster. The study showed that farmers viewed cover crops as a multi-functional tool that fitted well into their operation. Cover crops enhanced ecosystem services. They were also suitable with other farm components on a technical level and on a practical level. The adoption process was rooted in individual factors, where farmers changed their perceptions, beliefs and farming system. Collective-contextual factors, such as the growing popularity of cover crops in the country also influenced individual factors. Farmers expressed the ease of integrating cover cropping into their farming system. For them, the idea of a successful cover crop integration involved the concept of sustainability. The purpose of cover crops was seen with a long-term vision for a healthier and a more robust farming system. Practitioners showed a system thinking mindset, where cover crops were an integral part of their farming system. Based on these results, scaling-up the practice suggests taking a different approach when generating knowledge and sharing it among the agricultural sector. When dealing with wicked problems such as climate change and soil degradation, a systemic-horizontal learning approach should be taken as a path forward.