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AGRICULTURE, TRADE AND THE ENVIRONMENT – THE ARABLE CROP SECTOR – ISBN-92-64-00996-5 © OECD 2005 – 47 Other factors, such as the impact on soil fertility of more intensive cultivation practices and the shortening of fallow periods, are important determinants of increased yields. There is some empirical evidence suggesting that increases in production and yields can be achieved with a less than proportional increase in fertiliser nutrient use. A study on maize in the North America, for example, found increased nutrient-use efficiency was achieved through the adoption of improved and more precise management practices (Frink, Waggoner and Ausubel, 1998).
Sources: OECD Secretariat based on EUROSTAT; Statistical Yearbook, MAFF, Japan; ABARE (2003). The magnitude of the structural change is reflected in the proportional share of the different size categories. In the EU, the majority of arable crop farms are relatively small in size, with 58% of all farms utilising less than 5 ha. In Greece Italy, Italy and Portugal, the proportion of small farms in the national cereals total is even more pronounced, with over three-quarters of farms using less than 5 ha.
A study found that half of the arable fields surveyed in England and Wales showed signs of soil erosion at least every other year (Evans, 1996). Erosion by water is exacerbated by intense rainfall, steep slopes and sandy soil, late-harvested, spring-sown crops, such as maize and sugarbeet. It is lower where crops are drilled in early autumn and where minimum cultivation or direct seeding practices are used. , 2001). In the United Kingdom, in grassland and arable regions, the timing of agricultural activities is as significant as considerations of cultivation practice, crop cover and soil type, in determining the scale and extent of soil erosion (McHugh, 2004).