Current issue: 53(4)
Under the soil bank act, which took effect in 1969, 85,000 hectares of agricultural land were withdrawn from agricultural production in order to cut down the heavy surpluses of grain and butter in Finland. The farmers have a possibility to afforest their soil bank land partly on public funds, and if they choose to do so they receive a compensation of 250 Fmk for 15 years, instead of the nine years which is the maximum duration of a soil bank contract.
The study involved interviewing of 136 farmers sampled from the total of 13,368. The farmers were planning to afforest a total of 18,600 ha by the end of 1972. The main species were birch (Betula sp.) 40%, Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) both 30%. The main reasons (mentioned by 65% of the farmers) for afforestating the soil bank land were the unfavourable conditions for agriculture. On the other hand, 43% of those who had decided not to afforest felt that their land is too good to be planted with trees. One fifth of those not afforesting said that they themselves would not benefit from the afforestation and therefore were not interested in investing in forestry. The attitudes of the farmers seem to have also influenced their decision on afforestation. Those who had taken a positive decision on afforestation appeared to take more positive attitude in regard to forestry than other farmers.
The soil bank act does not seem to solve permanently Finland’s problem of the surpluses of agricultural products since the soil bank farmers planned to revert two thirds of the soil bank land under cultivation on the expiration of the soil bank act.
The PDF includes a summary in English.