Suitably structured and located farmland is essential for efficient and sustainable production of food and feed. Small and fragmented plots lead to increased transport costs and more work. Existing measures to deal with this problem is limited to the market (rent and lease of land) and government regulation (including concession legislation), but this has not improved the situation much. New approaches are needed.

Research in Europe indicates that voluntary cooperation can be a way forward. Such type of solutions requires systematical testing, facilitation of maps, economic analysis and expertise on social change.

The project is organized in four work packages:

1) describe the zonal structure (plots and users) and measure distances using maps and farm data,

2) calculate and assess economy and sustainability,

3) investigate farmers’ and owners’ experiences and opportunities, and

4) test and evaluate intervention processes in selected areas.

In addition, there is dissemination and project management.

Most of the research will be done in the selected areas in the participating counties. The project will build on lessons learned from previous projects. Researchers from Finland and Switzerland will bring in expertise and international experiences. Findings from the project will be documented and communicated to relevant audiences in traditional and new ways.

The project is a collaboration between Centre for Rural Research, Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Nordland Research Institute, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, two foreign research institutions (LUKE and Agroscope), and Tine, Norwegian agricultural consulting, Norwegian Farmers’ Union and Norwegian Farmers’ and Smallholders’ Union, and eight county governors. The project is funded by the Research Funding for Agriculture and the Food Industry with TINE and the county governors as co-funders. The project is led by Centre for Rural Research and will run over three years (2017-2020).

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