Matthias Koesling

Research Scientist

(+47) 943 74 616
matthias.koesling@nibio.no

Place
Tingvoll

Visiting address
Gunnars vei 6, NO-6630 Tingvoll

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Abstract

Docks (Rumex spp.) are a considerable problem in grassland production worldwide. We investigated how different cultural management techniques affected dock populations during grassland renewal: (I) renewal time, (II) companion crop, (III) false seedbed, (IV) taproot cutting (V), plough skimmer and (VI) ploughing depth. Three factorial split-split plot experiments were carried out in Norway in 2007–2008 (three locations), 2008–2009 (one location) and 2009 (one location). After grassland renewal, more dock plants emerged from seeds than from roots. Summer renewal resulted in more dock seed and root plants than spring renewal. Adding a spring barley companion crop to the grassland crop often reduced dock density and biomass. A false seedbed resulted in 71% fewer dock seed plants following summer renewal, but tended to increase the number of dock plants after spring renewal. In some instances, taproot cutting resulted in less dock biomass, but the effect was weak and inconsistent, and if ploughing was shallow (16 cm) or omitted, it instead increased dock root plant emergence. Fewer root plants emerged after deep ploughing (24 cm) compared to shallow ploughing, and a plough skimmer tended to reduce the number further. We conclude that a competitive companion crop can assist in controlling both dock seed and root plants, but it is more important that the renewal time is favourable to the main crop. Taproot cutting in conjunction with ploughing is not an effective way to reduce dock root plants, but ploughing is more effective if it is deep and a skimmer is used.

Abstract

Research is being poured into developing both potential products and the processes required to convert seaweed, or macroalgae, into products. So far, the results are products for high-end markets, such as restaurants, but in very modest volumes. To understand what it will take to create a large-scale seaweed industry, research is conducted into the strategic-, environmental- and economic realities such an industry would have to deal with as suppliers of fish-feed. The idea is that unless the industry has something to offer that competing products do not, in terms of cost, performance or environmental- and economic footprint, the seaweed industry will be delegated to small volumes for special needs and high value products. These topics are discussed below.

Abstract

This study examines the relationships between profitability, nitrogen (N) surplus, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and energy intensity and factors influencing these relationships in dairy farming. In-depth data from 10 conventional and 8 organic dairy farms in Western Norway were analyzed. Organic farms had lower N surplus per hectare (local, onfarm) and per unit output (global, cradle-to-farm-gate), and lower estimated GHG emissions and energy intensity per unit output, whereas labor input and farm profits did not differ. Higher profitability tended to be associated with improved performance of the environmental indicators examined. Intensification through increased use of concentrates tended to improve profit and reduce N surplus, GHG emissions, and energy intensity per unit output within each farming system while N surplus per hectare could be negatively affected. To ensure a balanced representation of the environmental consequences of both organic and conventional farming systems,our results give support to extensive examination of both area and product-based environmental performance indicators.

Abstract

To improve environmental sustainability it is important that all sectors in a society contribute to improving the utilization of inputs as energy and nutrients. In Norway, dairy farming contributes with an important share to the added value from the agricultural sector, although there is little information available about utilization of energy and nitrogen (N). Many results on sustainability have been published on dairy farming. However, due to Norway’s Nordic climatic conditions, mountainous and rugged topography and an agricultural policy that can design its own prices and subsidies, results from other countries are hardly representative for Norwegian conditions. To bridge this gap, the objective of this study was to analyse if the utilisation of nitrogen and energy in dairy farming in Norway can be improved to strengthen its environmental sustainability. Data were collected from 2010 to 2012 on 10 conventional and 10 organic farms in a region in central Norway with dairy farming as the main enterprise. The farms varied in area, number of dairy cows and milk yield. For nitrogen, a farm gate balance was applied and supplemented with nitrogen fixation by clover and atmospheric N-deposition. The total farm area was broken down into three categories: dairy farm area utilized directly by the farm, off-farm area needed to produce imported roughages and concentrates, and free rangeland that only can be used for grazing.

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Abstract

Reduced N-surpluses in dairy farming is a strategy to reduce the environmental pollution from this production. This study was designed to analyse the important variables influencing nitrogen (N) surplus per hectare and per unit of N in produce for dairy farms and dairy systems across 10 certified organic and 10 conventional commercial dairy farms in Møre og Romsdal County, Norway, between 2010 and 2012. The N-surplus per hectare was calculated as N-input (net N-purchase and inputs from biological N-fixation, atmospheric deposition and free rangeland) minus N in produce (sold milk and meat gain), and the N-surplus per unit of N-produce as net Ninput divided by N in produce. On average, the organic farms produced milk and meat with lower N-surplus per hectare (88 ± 25 kg N·ha−1) than did conventional farms (220 ± 56 kg N·ha−1). Also, the N-surplus per unit of N-produce was on average lower on organic than on conventional farms, 4.2 ± 1.2 kg N·kg N−1 and 6.3 ± 0.9 kg N·kg N−1, respectively. All farms included both fully-cultivated land and native grassland. Nsurplus was found to be higher on the fully cultivated land than on native grassland. N-fertilizers (43%) and concentrates (30%) accounted for most of the N input on conventional farms. On organic farms, biological Nfixation and concentrates contributed to 32% and 36% of the N-input (43 ± 18 N·kg N−1 and 48 ± 11 N·kg N−1), respectively. An increase in N-input per hectare increased the amount of N-produce in milk and meat per hectare, but, on average for all farms, only 11% of the N-input was utilised as N-output; however, the N-surplus per unit of N in produce (delivered milk and meat gain) was not correlated to total N-input. This surplus was calculated for the dairy system, which also included the N-surplus on the off-farm area. Only 16% and 18% of this surplus on conventional and organic farms, respectively, was attributed to surplus derived from off-farm production of purchased feed and animals. Since the dairy farm area of conventional and organic farms comprised 52% and 60% of the dairy system area, respectively, it is crucial to relate production not only to dairy farm area but also to the dairy system area. On conventional dairy farms, the N-surplus per unit of N in produce decreased with increasing milk yield per cow. Organic farms tended to have lower N-surpluses than conventional farms with no correlation between the milk yield and the N-surplus. For both dairy farm and dairy system area, N-surpluses increased with increasing use of fertilizer N per hectare, biological N-fixation, imported concentrates and roughages and decreased with higher production per area. This highlights the importance of good agronomy that well utilize available nitrogen.

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Abstract

Due to the limited resources of fossil fuels and the need to mitigate climate change, energy utilisation for all human activity has to be improved. The objective of this study was to analyse the correlation between energy intensity on dairy farms and production mode, to examine the influence of machinery and buildings on energy intensity, and to find production related solutions for conventional and organic dairy farms to reduce energy intensity. Data from ten conventional and ten organic commercial dairy farms in Norway from 2010 to 2012 were used to calculate the amount of embodied energy as the sum of primary energy used for production of inputs from cradle-to-farm gates using a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach. Energy intensities of dairy farms were used to show the amount of embodied energy needed to produce the inputs per metabolizable energy in the output. Energy intensities allow to easily point out the contribution of different inputs. The results showed that organic farms produced milk and meat with lower energy intensities on average than the conventional ones. On conventional farms, the energy intensity on all inputs was 2.6 ± 0.4 (MJMJ?1) and on organic farms it was significantly lower at 2.1 ± 0.3 (MJ MJ?1). On conventional farms, machinery and buildings contributed 18% ± 4%, on organic farms 29% ± 4% to the overall energy use. The high relative contribution of machinery and buildings to the overall energy consumption underlines the importance of considering them when developing solutions to reduce energy consumption in dairy production. For conventional and organic dairy farms, different strategies are recommend to reduce the energy intensity on all inputs. Conventional farms can reduce energy intensity by reducing the tractor weight and on most of them, it should be possible to reduce the use of nitrogen fertilisers without reducing yields. On organic dairy farms, energy intensity can be reduced by reducing embodied energy in barns and increasing yields. The embodied energy in existing barns can be reduced by a higher milk production per cow and by a longer use of the barns than the estimated lifetime. In the long run, new barns should be built with a lower amount of embodied energy. The high variation of energy intensity on all inputs from 1.6 to 3.3 (MJ MJ?1) (corresponding to the energy use of 4.5e9.3 MJ kg-1 milk) found on the 20 farms shows a potential for producing milk and meat with lower energy intensity on many farms. Based on the results, separate recommendations were provided for conventional and organic farms for reducing energy intensity.

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Abstract

Embodied energy in barns is found to contribute to about 10–30% of total energy use on dairy farms. Nevertheless, research on sustainability of dairy farming has largely excluded consideration of embodied energy. The main objectives of this study were to apply an established model from the residential and commercial building sector and estimate the amount of embodied energy in the building envelopes on 20 dairy farms in Norway. Construction techniques varied across the buildings and our results showed that the variables which contributed most significantly to levels of embodied energy were the area per cow-place, use of concrete in walls and insulation in concrete walls. Our findings are in contrast to the assumption that buildings are similar and would show no significant differences. We conclude that the methodology is sufficiently flexible to accommodate different building design and use of materials, and allows for an efficient means of estimating embodied energy reducing the work compared to a mass material calculation. Choosing a design that requires less material or materials with a low amount of embodied energy, can significantly reduce the amount of embodied energy in buildings.

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Abstract

The calculation of the embedded energy (EE) of twenty barns shows that there is a considerable variation of EE per cow, where the lowest values were one fourth of the highest. Use of timber instead of concrete in walls had most effect to reduce the amount of EE. Cold barns can contribute to reduce the amount of EE, while the amount of EE is higher in free-stall than in tie-stall barns.While for an existing building the amount of EE is nearly fixed, calculating the anticipated amount for a new building can contribute to reduce this value considerably. This progress can help to reduce energy use in organic agriculture and thus contribute to a more sustainable production. Incorporating EE in planning new buildings should be of special importance for organic farming, since regulations demand for more area per animal than in conventional farming. In addition to building new, renovation and extension as well as recycling of building materials should be considered. Planning a new building should also include other topics as operational energy, as well as working conditions, animal welfare and economic considerations.

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Abstract

The calculation of the embedded energy (EE) of twenty barns shows that there is a considerable variation of EE per cow, where the lowest values were one fourth of the highest. Use of timber instead of concrete in walls had most effect to reduce the amount of EE. Cold barns can contribute to reduce the amount of EE, while the amount of EE is higher in free-stall than in tie-stall barns. While for an existing building the amount of EE is nearly fixed, calculating the anticipated amount for a new building can help to reduce energy use in agriculture and thus contribute to a more sustainable production. Incorporating EE in planning new buildings should be of special importance for organic farming, since regulations demand more area per animal than in conventional farming. In addition to building new, renovation, extension as well as recycling of building materials should be considered. Planning new buildings should also include operational energy, as well as working conditions, animal welfare and economic considerations.

Abstract

Docks are among the most important perennial weeds in grasslands throughout the world and the need for more effective control methods is especially crucial in organic forage production. To find more effective control methods, field trials over 2 years at 4 Norwegian locations, were carried out mainly as a full-factorial design, including factors expected to reduce docks significantly. (i) Date of grassland establishment: may be important for preventing/decreasing the flush of seedlings from seeds as well as shoots from root fragments.(ii) False seedbed preparation: to decrease soil seed bank. (iii) Use of nurse crop (cover crop) to increase competitiveness against Rumex seedlings. (iv) Cutting the taproot, using a rotary tiller before ploughing, or the "dock-plough" (a skimmer modified to cut roots in the entire furrow width at ca 7 cm depth): as new shoots mostly come from the neck and the upper 5 cm of the taproot. (v) Ploughing depth and skimming: to decrease shoots from root fragments. Weed development was assessed as the number of emerging Rumex seedlings and plants sprouting from root fragments. Results indicated that frequently more plants emerged from seeds than from root fragments. Neither renewing the grassland in summer, nor the use of the rotary tiller or the "dock plough" reduced the number of docks in the renewed grasslands. The use of the false seedbed and nurse crop, at some locations and years, reduced the number of docks in the renewed grasslands. Deep ploughing (24cm) reduced the number of Rumex plants from roots by 65% percent compared to shallow ploughing (16cm). Furthermore, the use of a skimmer reduced the number of docks sprouting from roots by 28%. Among the investigated factors, competitiveness, false seedbed and ploughing depth, as well as ploughing quality, seems to be the most promising factors for reducing the number of docks in renewed grassland.

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Abstract

In Norway, public procurement of food to youth is not well developed in comparison to many other European and Scandinavian countries. School meals are only offered in very few primary schools, and the common school meal is a packed lunch (sandwiches) brought from home, consumed in the class room. Subscription schemes for milk were introduced around 1970, and for fruit around 1995. Organic milk and fruit is offered only in some regions. Since 2007, fruit is served without payment in all schools with a lower secondary level (class 8-10 or 1-10). This effort was introduced as a first step to develop a free school meal in all public schools, which is a goal of one of the political parties in the current government. As in many other European countries, free school meals were offered (especially to poor children) in schools in the larger Norwegian cities around 1900. However, these meals were criticised for being unhealthy, and replaced by whole grain bread, milk and vegetables around 1930. Increasing private wealth, and increased demand for investments in school buildings, books etc changed the public priority and free school meals disappeared in Oslo around 1960. Today, there is not a general agreement about the optimal school meal composition, and whether or not the meals should be funded by the public. However, the increasing length of the school day and unsatisfactory scores of Norwegian pupils in international comparison tests (e.g. PISA) makes the school meal sector highly relevant in the public debate. Three cases that will be studied in a research project about public organic food procurement for youth are briefly described: The municipality of Trondheim, Øya music festival in Oslo and the Air Force Academy. (Increased) serving of organic food is an important aim in all these cases, and young people are an important target group. The report is produced within the project “innovative Public Organic food Procurement for Youth”, iPOPY, and will be updated and revised during the project period (2007-2010).

Abstract

Conventional farmers converting to organics have contributed to most of the rapid expansion of organic farming in recent years. The new organic farmers may differ from their more established colleagues, which may have implications for the development of the organic farming sector and its distinctiveness vis-a-vis conventional production and marketing practices. The aim of this study was to explore Norwegian organic dairy farmers' personal and farm production characteristics, farming goals, conversion motives, and attitudes to organic farming, grouped by year of conversion (three groups). A postal survey was undertaken among organic dairy farmers (n=161). The results show that the newcomers (converted in 2000 or later) were less educated than the early entrants (the so-called 'old guard') who converted in 1995 or earlier. The frequency of activities like vegetable growing and poultry farming among the old guard was high. The late-entry organic herds were fed with more concentrates and had a higher milk production intensity, showed a higher incidence of veterinary treatments and less frequent use of alternative medicine than the herds of the two earlier converting groups. For all groups of farmers, the highest ranked farming goals were sustainable and environment-friendly farming and the production of high-quality food. Late entrants more often mentioned goals related to profit and leisure time. On average, the most frequently mentioned motives for conversion were food quality and professional challenges. The old guard was more strongly motivated by food quality and soil fertility/pollution issues than the others, whereas financial reasons (organic payments included) were relatively more important among the newcomers. All groups held very favorable views about the environmental qualities of organic farming methods, albeit with different strengths of beliefs. Even though trends towards more pragmatic and business-oriented farming were found, the majority of the newcomers were fairly committed.

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Abstract

This study was conducted to explore organic and conventional dairy farmers' perceptions of risk and risk management, and to examine relationships between farm and farmer characteristics, risk perceptions, and strategies. The data originate from a survey of conventional (n=363) and organic (n=162) dairy farmers in Norway. Organic farmers had the least risk averse perceptions. Institutional and production risks were perceived as primary sources of risk, with farm support payments at the top. Compared to their conventional colleagues, organic farmers gave more weight to institutional factors related to their production systems. Conventional farmers were more concerned about costs of purchased inputs and animal welfare policy. Organic and conventional farmers' management responses were more similar than their risk perceptions. Financial measures such as liquidity and costs of production, disease prevention, and insurance were perceived as important ways to handle risk. Even though perceptions were highly farmer-specific, a number of socio-economic variables were found to be related to risk and risk management. The primary role of institutional risks implies that policy makers should be cautious about changing policy capriciously and they should consider the scope for strategic policy initiatives that give farmers some greater confidence about the longer term. Further, researchers should pay more attention to institutional risks. (c) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Abstract

About 22 % of the conventional dairy and cash crop farmers in Norway were considering or were planning to convert to organic farming during the next four years. For these farmers, here called potential converters, higher soil fertility, professional challenges, profitability, and organic farming payments were important motives for considering to convert.

Abstract

About 22 % of the conventional dairy and cash crop farmers in Norway were considering or were planning to convert to organic farming during the next four years. For these farmers, here called potential converters, higher soil fertility, professional challenges, profitability, and organic farming payments were important motives for considering to convert.

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Abstract

This study was conducted to explore organic and conventional dairy farmers perceptions of risk and risk management, and to examine relationships between farm and farmer characteristics, risk perceptions, and strategies. The data originate from a survey of conventional (n = 363) and organic (n = 162) dairy farmers in Norway. Organic farmers had the least risk averse perceptions. Institutional and production risks were perceived as primary sources of risk, with farm support payments at the top. Compared to their conventional colleagues, organic farmers gave more weight to institutional factors related to their production systems. Conventional farmers were more concerned about costs of purchased inputs and animal welfare policy. Organic and conventional farmers management responses were more similar than their risk perceptions. Financial measures such as liquidity and costs of production, disease prevention, and insurance were perceived as important ways to handle risk. Even though perceptions were highly farmer-specific, a number of socio-economic variables were found to be related to risk and risk management. The primary role of institutional risks implies that policy makers should be cautious about changing policy capriciously and they should consider the scope for strategic policy initiatives that give farmers some greater confidence about the longer term. Further, researchers should pay more attention to institutional risks.

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Abstract

This study presents empirical insight into organic and conventional cash crop farmers' perceptions of risk and risk management strategies, and identifies socio-economic variables linked to these perceptions. The data originate from a questionnaire survey of farmers in Norway. The results indicate that organic farmers perceived themselves to be less risk aversethan conventional farmers. For both groups, crop prices and yield variability were the two top rated sources of risk, followed by institutional risks. The two groups evaluated risk management strategies quite similarly; favoured strategies weregood liquidity and to prevent and reduce crop diseases and pests. The farmers' evaluation of sources of risk and choice of risk strategies depended onvarious socio-economic variables. The importance of institutional risks implies that policy makers should be cautious about changing policy capriciously and they should consider strategic policy initiatives that give farmers more long-term reliability.

Abstract

The objective of this study was to provide empirical insight into dairy farmers goals, relative risk attitude, sources of risk and risk management responses. The study also examines whether organic dairy farming, leads to important risk sources not experienced in conventional farming and, if so, howthose extra risks are managed. The data originate from a questionnaire survey of conventional (n=373) and organic (n = 162) dairy farmers in Norway. The results show that organic farmers have somewhat different goals than conventional farmers,and that the average organic farmer is less risk averse. Institutional risk was perceived as the most important source ofrisk, independently of conventional or organic production system. Keeping cash on hand wasthe most important strategy to manage risk for all dairy farmers.

Abstract

As more data have been amassed and interest in working with the ensuing data sets have grown, methods for organizing and examining the data have evolved. The need to work with these larger amounts of data has led to the development of ‘data mining’ methods and software. Data mining has a somewhat skewed reputation, and has often been characterised as ‘data dredging’ or ‘fishing expeditions’ . However, most of us must admit that such ‘expeditions’ or what one also could call hypothesis-generating approaches where we look for both likely and less likely associations, has occurred within our own research. In principal, generating promising associations is what data mining is all about. In this paper we have applied one of many commercial software available (Enterprise Miner, SAS) on a small dataset merged from a questionnaire data set and the national dairy cattle health and production records. We investigated for patterns separating organic dairy farmers from the conventional ones. The main framework of the data mining approach, some of the core modelling methods and the data mining results are briefly described and assessed.

Abstract

The objective of this study was to provide empirical insight into dairy farmers’ goals, relative risk attitude, sources of risk and risk management responses. The study also examines whether organic dairy farming, leads to important risk sources not experienced in conventional farming and, if so, how those extra risks is managed. The data originate from a questionnaire survey of conventional (n=370) and organic (n = 160) dairy farmers in Norway. The results show that organic farmers have somewhat different goals than conventional farmers, and that the average organic farmer is less risk averse. Institutional risk was perceived as the most important source of risk, independently of conventional or organic production system, while organic farmers indicated greater concern about forage yield risk. Keeping cash on hand was the most important strategy to manage risk for all dairy farmers. Diversification and different kinds of flexibility was regarded as a more important risk management strategies among organic than conventional farmers.

Abstract

The Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture (1999) has announced its goal of converting 10% of the total agricultural area to organic farming methods by the year 2009. Considerations of profitability and risk will be especially important, when the conversion of a farm is planned. Studies of risk and risk management in organic farming have been lacking in Norway. Only very few such studies have been carried out internationally, thus showing that there is a definite need for more risk and risk management research in organic farming. The project aims to increase knowledge about risks and risk management in organic farming systems. It is a co-operation between NILF, NORSK, and NVH. Both biological and economic aspects of risk will be taken into consideration. We wish to test and apply acknowledged statistical and risk analysis theories and methods on issues related to organic farming. The project will deal with the extent of risk in organic farming, strategies used by organic farmers to handle risk and whole-farm models to analyse optimal economic solutions under uncertainty in organic farming. The project will cover farms that are still in conversion and completely converted farms. Results from the project will directly benefit farmers and farm advisers. Politicians and public administrators will receive access to significant information for the design of future policies.