Towards mitigation of greenhouse gases by small changes in farming practices: understanding local barriers in Spain

  • Berta Sánchez
  • Jorge Álvaro-Fuentes
  • Ruth Cunningham
  • Ana IglesiasEmail author
Original Article


Small changes in agricultural practices have a large potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, the implementation of such practices at the local level is often limited by a range of barriers. Understanding the barriers is essential for defining effective measures, the actual mitigation potential of the measures, and the policy needs to ensure implementation. Here we evaluate behavioural, cultural, and policy barriers for implementation of mitigation practices at the local level that imply small changes to farmers. The choice of potential mitigation practices relevant to the case study is based on a literature review of previous empirical studies. Two methods that include the stakeholders’ involvement (experts and farmers) are undertaken for the prioritization of these potential practices: (a) Multi-criteria analysis (MCA) of the choices of an expert panel and (b) Analysis of barriers to implementation based on a survey of farmers. The MCA considers two future climate scenarios – current climate and a drier and warmer climate scenario. Results suggest that all potential selected practices are suitable for mitigation considering multiple criteria in both scenarios. Nevertheless, if all the barriers for implementation had the same influence, the preferred mitigation practices in the case study would be changes in fertilization management and use of cover crops. The identification of barriers for the implementation of the practices is based on the econometric analysis of surveys given to farmers. Results show that farmers’ environmental concerns, financial incentives and access to technical advice are the main factors that define their barriers to implementation. These results may contribute to develop effective mitigation policy to be included in the 2020 review of the European Union Common Agricultural Policy.


Barriers to adoption Farming practices Mitigation practices Multi-criteria Analysis Surveys 



We acknowledge funding from the SmartSOIL project (Project number: 289694), EU, 7th Framework Programme, and the collaboration of experts of the REMEDIA network ( and the collaboration with farmers of the farming cooperative “Virgen de la Corona” and of the association of conservation agriculture of Aragon “Agracon”.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Berta Sánchez
    • 1
  • Jorge Álvaro-Fuentes
    • 2
  • Ruth Cunningham
    • 1
  • Ana Iglesias
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Economics and Social SciencesUniversidad Politécnica de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of Soil and Water, Estación Experimental de Aula Dei (EEAD)Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)ZaragozaSpain

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