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'The Meadow is the Mother of the Field.' Comparing Transformations in Hay Production in Three European Agroecosystems

Journal article
Authors T Lennartsson
A Westin
A Iuga
E Jones
S Madry
S Murray
Eva Gustavsson
Published in Martor
Volume 21
Pages 103-126
ISSN 1224-6271
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Conservation
Pages 103-126
Language en
Keywords agroecology, comparative landscape studies, historical ecology, hay production, social-ecological systems (SES)
Subject categories Cultural anthropology, Human Geography, Agricultural history, Terrestrial ecology


This research compares the production of hay in three historical European agroecological systems: in northern Romania, central Sweden and eastern central France. We analyse hay production in relation to the entire production system, the local natural conditions, and the variety of ways by which hay production was transformed over time. We found broad commonalities, but also discovered significant differences in each of three historical trajectories. Introduction of fodder crops, crop rotations and mechanization are important drivers of changes in all three areas, although the timing, sequence and causation vary from place to place. There are signifcant differences in the organization of farm labour, in the role of beef and dairy production, the role of political reforms and the climatic constraints of outdoor grazing which affected the transformation of fodder production. This paper highlights the potential of an integrated, interdisciplinary approach for better understanding the complex interaction of people, their social and economic contexts, and their environment.

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