Maatalous- metsätieteellinen tiedekunta

 

Recent Submissions

  • Ala-Poikela, Marjo (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Potyviruses (genus Potyvirus, family Potyviridae) are plant RNA viruses infecting a broad range of agriculturally important crops. Potyviruses have compact genomes encoding a small number of proteins and are therefore dependent on host factors. Even though several host factors are indispensable for plant virus infection, most so far identified natural recessive resistance genes to different potyviruses are homologs of the same genes, translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) and its plant-specific isoform eIF(iso)4E. The eIF4E is best known for recruiting ribosomes to capped mRNAs during cap-dependent translation. The viral-genome linked protein (VPg) encoded by potyviruses have been reported to interact with eIF4E/eIF(iso)4E. The hypothesis is that VPg substitutes for the cap-structure by binding to the eIF4E and hereby hijacks and assembles the host cell translation machinery for viral translation that subsequently inhibits host translation. However, the exact roles of eIF4E/eIF(iso)4E in recessive resistance against potyviruses are still cryptic. In this study we present novel data that will give new insights into the molecular mechanisms behind eIF4E-mediated resistance against potyviruses. In this study, we demonstrated that helper component proteinase (HCpro) from Potato virus A (PVA), Potato virus Y (PVY), and Tobacco etch virus (TEV) interacted with the eIF(iso)4E and eIF4E of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) and potato (Solanum tuberosum). An eIF4E-binding motif was found in the C-terminal region of HCpro and point mutations within the motif debilitated interactions of HCpro with translation initiation factors and impeded PVA virulence in plants. In PVA-infected cells, interactions between HCpro and eIF(iso)4E were confined to round-shaped structures that associated with the 6 kilodalton protein 2 (6K2)-induced viral replication vesicles. Furthermore an eIF4E-binding motif was recognized in the VPg of PVA and two other potyviruses. Mutations in the eIF4E-binding motif interfered with interactions of VPg with eIF4E, impaired suppression of RNAi by VPg, and abolished virulence of PVA. These results show that the interaction of VPg with eIF4E controlled by the eIF4E-binding motif in VPg is essential for PVA virulence, regardless of that VPg still binds to the cap-binding domain of eIF4E. The capability to bind to two distinct binding sites of eIF4E might reflect two distinct functions of VPg. HCpro and VPg were found to interact with each other in the nucleus and nucleolus in PVA-infected cells. In cytoplasm, the VPg-HCpro interaction was observed in round-shaped bodies in the proximity of the nucleus and chloroplasts, but not in association with the 6K2-induced replication vesicles. The interactions of VPg with eIF4E via the eIF4E-binding domain may also regulate interactions of HCpro with eIF4E. Taken together, the results suggest novel mechanisms by which potyviruses interact with the host translation system and other putative functions involving eIF4E/eIFiso4E.
  • Petty, Aaron (2014)
    The production of energy wood from small-diameter (DBH < 9 cm) forests in Finland through separate energy wood and integrated energy wood and pulpwood production often face cost pressures that inhibit economic viability of many operations. Systemic factors, such as small stem sizes, limited removals, and high density of young forest stands limit the efficiency of many operations resulting in low productivity and high operating costs, particularly within cutting operations. Within the study, means to increase efficiency and mitigate costs of small-diameter energy wood and integrated energy wood and pulpwood operations by identifying optimal methods, technologies, and policy that may be applied were investigated. Studies of integrated and delimbed stemwood cutting methods including the use of multi-tree handling and combined timber assortments in forest stands with stem size (DBH) of removals varying between 5-17 cm were investigated and compared against separate pulpwood production. Findings suggest that the methods provide increases in productivity and decreases in costs, particularly in < 11 cm DBH conditions. Crane scale measuring was investigated as a technical solution in timber logistics to be applied in energy wood and industrial roundwood procurement. The measuring method, used as a basis of payment, was found to provide a reliable, accurate, and cost effective method when compared with a manual timber pile measurement system. Policies, in the form of financial incentives were investigated to determine the effects of applicable subsidies on the profitability of energy wood production based on stem size of removal, finding possibilities for profitable operations with reduction in subsidies, however, with stem sizes (DBH) of removal ≤ 7 cm incentives played an important role in increasing profitability. Cost reductions were identified through: The utilization of integrated and delimbed stemwood harvesting methods with multi-tree handling, decreasing harvesting costs by 0.1-52.4% dependent on stem size (DBH) of removal between 7-17 cm when compared to a traditional pulpwood harvesting method; Combining timber assortments providing harvesting cost reductions between 1.5-8.0% between 5-17 cm; Crane scale measurement use provided increased accuracy and a 18.2-45.5% reduction in costs when compared to a manual timber pile measurement system when dependent on estimated working volumes between 20,000-30,000 cubic meters; Financial incentives under the PETU system were applied increasing profit margins of integrated supply chain operations by 14.3-19.9% dependent on stem size of removal, particularly with stem size of removals between 5-7 cm. Through rationalization of supply chains, harvesting methods, technologies, and policy which exhibit the ability to reduce costs should be utilized throughout the whole supply chain where implementation is possible. Keywords: Energy wood production, integrated forest operations, supply chain profitability, productivity, small-diameter forest stands, subsidies, crane scale measurement.
  • Laurila, Jussi (2013)
    The aim of this thesis was to improve the quality of energy wood and therefore increase the potential of forest energy. About half of the mass of a freshly-felled tree consists of water. From the point of view of energy generation this water is unwelcome. There are two main ways to dry energy wood; these are artificial drying and drying naturally. The Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.) stump wood dries fairly quickly in favourable natural conditions. The average moisture content (wet basis) of a stump was about 31 % one month after stump harvesting. Small-sized whole trees did not dry well at roadside storage sites under natural conditions. About one year after harvesting the moisture content of a small-sized whole tree was still about 43 %. However, during storing a remarkable weight loss of 37 % was detected between the forest and the heating plant. The most effective and the fastest drying method found in this study was the continuous compression drying method. The lowest moisture content of 30 % was achieved for Downy birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.) by continuous pressing using 38 MPa and with a pressing time of 30 seconds. The energy consumption for compression drying is very low compared to the energy required to vaporise water in thermal drying. The techno-economic forest energy potential of the study area was 1.6 TWh/y. The forest energy potential calculations were made using the heating value of fresh wood and therefore the real potential will be greater when using dried energy wood. For absolutely dry wood the potential was about 1.9 TWh/y. The properties of energy wood vary widely depending on its assortment, storage conditions, as well as the weather conditions and the origin of the energy wood. However, a better understanding of energy wood properties will increase forest energy s potential and the use of renewable energy and thus help mitigate climate change globally.
  • Kallioniemi, Marja (MTT eli Maa- ja elintarviketalouden tutkimuskeskus, Taloustutkimus, 2013)
    The restructuring of agriculture in Finland has resulted in several types of change on farms during recent years. The field areas and sizes of herds per farm have been increasing, while the number of farms has been decreasing. Concurrently, the risks of agriculture have increased. Ongoing change has been described as a modernization process from traditional farming towards a more enterprise form of agriculture. Farms are mainly owned by private persons in Finland. The farm entrepreneurs and their well-being at work are at the core of this thesis. Human capacity, including work ability, health and coping has been assessed as a crucial element for the success of the farm enterprise. Stress is commonly described as a situation in which the demands of work are greater than the worker is able to cope with. This type of conflicting and strenuous situation may induce different kinds of symptoms and diseases in people. Agriculture is among the most injury-prone working sectors. The aims of this research were to determine the prevalence and symptoms of stress among full-time farm entrepreneurs, identify possibilities to increase occupational safety during animal handling work and characterise the negative and positive elements of women s working conditions on dairy farms. These aims were addressed through two main samples. The first was a telephone survey of 1 182 full-time farmers focusing on stress and symptoms among the respondents. Secondly, a qualitative study was carried out involving ten female farmers working on dairy farms that focused on occupational safety during animal handling and the working conditions of women. According to the results, full-time farmers experienced less stress than among the general working population in Finland. One in four (26%) full-time farmers had symptoms of weakness or fatigue and one in five (19%) farmers had symptoms of insomnia or difficulties in falling asleep. Both of these symptoms had increased statistically significantly when compared to an earlier follow-up survey in 1992. Problems with social relationships and lowered state of health were associated with stress and symptoms. Pesticide usage of over two weeks during the previous growing period had an association with symptoms. Based on the literature review, the most common stressors among farm entrepreneurs were the farm economy, regulations, the weather, dangers in farm work and new legislation. In the qualitative study occupational accidents were frequent: nearly all women had suffered one or more injuries during the previous two years. Unexpected animal behavior was considered as the most significant injury risk.The results revealed that a positive relationship between the stockperson and cattle as well as knowledge of animal behaviour and welfare enabled a safer working environment to gradually be built in the cattle barn. In practice, the stockperson should keep physical conditions animal friendly, perform positive and predictable routines, habituate young calves to people, avoid the separation of an individual animal, not dominate animals by force and be patient during work among farm animals. In addition, it is important to always be prepared for self-defence. Female respondents were involved in wide range of different work tasks on dairy farms. As a positive element, nearly all respondents considered work with animals and close to nature to be rewarding. On the other side, women s working days were long. Old traditions may create invisible barriers to organizing the work in a more functional way on enlarged farm units. Most women chose farm entrepreneur as their professional title, but their professional position was often undefined or misunderstood. The valuable contribution of female farm entrepreneurs to agriculture should be recognized and supported, because women s expertise within agriculture is important in finding solutions for future challenges such as sustainable, organic agriculture and animal welfare. Due to the ongoing restructuring of the agricultural sector in Finland, the well-being at work among farm entrepreneurs requires support, efforts and attention. The working environment related to agriculture includes several risks such as stress, injury and an impairment of work ability.
  • Heikkilä, Anna-Maija (MTT Agrifood Research Finland, 2013)
    The objective of this thesis was to find expedients that would improve the economic performance of Finnish dairy farms. Means under examination were replacement decisions related to technology and herds. The theory of optimal behavior formed the basis for the methods used in solving the research problems. Empirical data originated from the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) and from the Finnish dairy herd recording system. When studying the sustainability of herds, the replacement of a dairy cow was investigated by applying dynamic programming. The optimal replacement rules were almost similar for healthy and diseased cows indicating that the treatment of diseases is more profitable than replacing a diseased cow with a first-lactating one. Only cows with low milk production capacity should be disposed intentionally. A linear programming model was built for examining the optimal choices between conventional insemination, insemination with sex-sorted sperm and the use of conventional or sex-selected embryo transfer in a herd. The optimal outcome was a mixture of available technologies. Sex-sorted sperm was recommended for heifers only and primarily for calf production. In practice, the optimal insemination strategy is herd-specific. When studying the adoption of novel technology, discrete technology choice models were utilized. The results suggested that investment allowances significantly affect the changeover to loose-housing technology and robotic milking. Total factor productivity growth increased on those farms that switched from a conventional to an automatic milking system. The growth rate was derived from technology-specific production functions estimated with a two-stage estimation method. This method catered for the sample selection bias caused by the endogenous technology choice. The adoption of robotic milking intensified the positive development linked to overall improvements in production technology and an expansion in herd size given that milk production matched the capacity of the robot. In conclusion, by prolonging the herd life of dairy cows, dairy farmers can improve the economic performance of milk production. Therefore, farmers' awareness about the real costs of premature culling and the gains that can be achieved by treating a diseased cow must be improved. Optimizing tools, based on farm-specific input data, should be developed for determining the optimal replacement decisions and, hence, the optimal reproduction policy. Investment allowances are needed to boost up investments on those farms which have potential to develop their production to meet the future challenges. Investments in technology appropriate for large farms improve productivity growth and, thus, the prospects of dairy farms to survive in the long run. However, a human cannot be replaced by technology, not even by novel technology.
  • Niskanen, Anna-Maija (Finnish Society of Forest Science, Finnish Forest Research Institute, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry of the University of Helsinki, School of Forest Sciences of the University of Eastern Finland, 2013)
    The aim of this study is to assess the clonal variation in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) clones and in transgenic lines of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) and its causes, with special attention to the effects of cloning and transgenesis in tree breeding programmes. The parental effect on cloning success variation was studied in an experiment where Scots pine embryogenic lines were initiated from immature seeds of a full diallele cross. The evaluation was made after culture initiation, on maintenance medium and by mature embryo production. Growth and stem straightness of Scots pine clones were assessed in a 10-year field trial established with rooted cuttings. The effect of a single gene transfer, the sugar beet chitinase IV gene (chiIV), was assessed on plant growth, susceptibility to fungal diseases and development of root associated fungal communities and phenology, in a 3-year field trial established with micropropagated transgenic silver birch lines and wild-type clones. The results of the somatic embryogenesis experiment with Scots pine showed that the initiation success, as well as maturation, was more affected by the genotype of the mother than the one of the father, while during the proliferation period the mother s effect decreased and the father s increased. The field trial with Scots pine showed that the tree s genotype, more than the propagation method, has an effect on the plant behaviour in the field. In silver birch transgenic lines, the introduction of a single gene (chiIV) led to a reduction in growth and quality characteristics, although no significant changes occurred regarding fungal disease resistance, ectomycorrhizal colonization or fungal community structure, as compared to the natural variation occurring in wild type clones. The conclusion was that the variation in the success of Scots pine embryogenesis and in the growth of rooted cuttings is strongly affected by genotype and, hence, the rooted cuttings are suitable for testing height growth in breeding programmes. A single chiIV gene transfer did not improve significantly fungal disease resistance in silver birch or interfere with root associated fungal community. However, the variation in adaptive traits among silver birch transgenic lines is at the same level with the variation detected in randomly selected wild-type silver birches and single transgenic lines may be selected in breeding programmes.
  • Omoro, Loice M A (2012)
    Although forest ecosystems are crucial for human survival they are constantly under threat from human interventions and natural disasters which reduce their capacities to effectively provide ecosystem services. As populations increase, incidences of forest encroachments become frequent to affect the provision of the services. The objective in this study was to assess some ecosystem benefits and to determine how the local communities used and value them. The benefits assessed were floristic diversity; biomass and soil organic carbon densities; and suitability of indigenous tree species for forest rehabilitation based on soil properties in four different forest types, indigenous and plantations of cypress, eucalypt and pine in Taita Hills, Kenya. The perceptions of local community regarding how they use and value these benefits were also assessed. The conceptual framework was based on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Sampling design was based on a US Forest Service model used in the indigenous forests. For each forest area and forest type, a minimum of four plots were randomly selected and a total of 77 plots from 38 groups were sampled. In each plot, all juvenile trees of 5 cm or more in diameter at breast height were sampled for floristic diversity, biomass carbon stock and vegetation-soil relationship assessments. Soils were sampled at, 0-20 and 20-50 cm, for chemical and physical analyses to determine the soil organic carbon densities and vegetation-soil relationships. Tree species diversity, carbon densities derived from biomass and soil data were analyzed quantitatively. A qualitative analysis was done for the socio-economic part of the study, from data obtained using selected participatory rural appraisal tools and semi-structured questionnaires. Biodiversity analyses were accomplished using the Shannon-Weaver s Index. to assess the tree species composition. Tree biomass was estimated from allometric functions developed for tropical forests while soil organic carbon stocks were computed as a product of the analyzed carbon contents and bulk density values estimated using a pedotransfer function and measured particle size. Soil-vegetation relationships were determined by Principal Component Analysis, using CANOCO 4.5 software. The statistical analyses were accomplished by use of three versions of SPSS software for Windows (15, 16 and 20). The study established that indigenous forest was more diverse than plantations and regeneration of indigenous species significantly higher in exotic plantations of the most disturbed area than in the less disturbed areas. Some indigenous species correlated with sodium, phosphorus, carbon, pH and soil texture while some had no correlation with soil variables. Factors unrelated to soil variables, namely gaps were found to be important for the emergence and early establishment of seedlings. Total biomass C densities were generally higher in indigenous forest than in some exotic plantations, especially the cypress. Indigenous forest also had higher soil carbon stocks than plantations of exotic species. Community survey showed perceptions that exotics plantations contributed reductions of the forests to provide water and medicinal plants. Therefore, they are motivated to rehabilitate the forest by planting indigenous tree species. This study concluded that indigenous forest valuable for ecosystem services and that soil-vegetation relationships established be utilized along with soil analyses to select indigenous species to be planted in certain areas for rehabilitation. Such rehabilitation will enhance the floristic diversity and carbon sequestration and storage and therefore, contribute to restoration of the ecosystem services. Therefore, the initiated reforestation exercises with indigenous tree species to replace the exotic tree species are well justified. Key Words: Floristic diversity, biomass, carbon stocks, plantation, indigenous forest, Principal Component Analysis
  • Li, Ning (Finnish Society of Forest Science, Finnish Forest Research Institute, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry of the University of Helsinki, School of Forest Sciences of the University of Eastern Finland, 2012)
    Growing interest in corporate sustainability has translated into growing concerns about how corporate responsibility management can be more effectively integrated with economic business goals, challenging organizations to shift their priorities toward more holistic strategies and performance assessment models which encompass measures related to both multiple stakeholders and responsibilities. Although interactions between corporate (social) strategy, sustainability performance, and business competitiveness have received considerable attention in both theory and practice over the past three decades, the phenomenon is under-investigated in forest-based industry, which is undergoing broad structural changes and global shifts in market demand and supply. This dissertation aims to fill this gap by approaching it from the resource-based view of the firm and empirically investigating a variety of aspects in an attempt to provide an overview of state-of-the-art corporate sustainability in global forest-based industry and to capture a structured view of the relationships between sustainability performance, competitiveness and economic performance among forest-based companies. The results indicate that both larger and small forest-based companies seem to have clear stakeholder orientations. Driven by legal requirements aspects, small companies tend to adopt informal corporate responsibility strategies and tools to meet their stakeholder expectations. A majority of large forest industry companies appear to have implemented corporate responsibility mainly with a profit-maximizing assumption and a relatively defensive approach parallel to and beyond their core business. To these large companies, environmental and economic issues are dominant in disclosure and profitability, while regional differences are not decisive in formulating strategies for sustainability reporting. Furthermore, the results bolster previous findings that have reported a positive return on corporate responsibility initiatives in terms of profitability, suggesting that corporate responsibility can enhance value creation for forest-based companies. To that end, a differentiated business-oriented approach is necessary in managing the business case for sustainability.
  • Toivonen, Ritva (Suomen Metsätieteellinen Seura ry, 2011)
    The research analyzes product quality from a customer perspective in the case of the wood products industry. Of specific interest is to understand better how environmental quality is perceived from a customer perspective. The empirical material used comprises four data-sets from Finland, Germany and the UK, collected during 1992 2004. The methods consist of a set of quantitative statistical analyses. The results indicate that perceived quality from a customer perspective can be presented using a multidimensional and hierarchical construct with tangible and intangible dimensions, that is common to different markets and products. This applies in the case of wood products but also more generally at least for some other construction materials. For wood products, tangible product quality has two main sub-dimensions: technical quality and appearance. For product intangibles, a few main quality dimensions seem be detectable: Quality of intangibles related to the physical product, such as environmental issues and product-related information, supplier-related characteristics, and service and sales personnel behavior. Environmental quality and information are often perceived as being inter-related. Technical performance and appearance are the most important considerations for customers in the case of wood products. Organizational customers in particular also clearly consider certain intangible quality dimensions to be important, such as service and supplier reliability. The high technical quality may be considered as a license to operate , but product appearance and intangible quality provide potential for differentiation for attracting certain market segments. Intangible quality issues are those where Nordic suppliers underperform in comparison to their Central-European competitors on the important German markets. Environmental quality may not have been used to its full extent to attract customers. One possibility is to increase the availability of the environment-related information, or to develop environment-related product characteristics to also provide some individual benefits. Information technology provides clear potential to facilitate information-based quality improvements, which was clearly recognized by Finnish forest industry already in the early 1990s. The results indeed indicate that wood products markets are segmented with regard to quality demands
  • Hiltunen, Lea (2010)
    Tieteellinen tiivistelmä Common scab is one of the most important soil-borne diseases of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) in many potato production areas. It is caused by a number of Streptomyces species, in Finland the causal agents are Streptomyces scabies (Thaxter) Lambert & Loria and S. turgidiscabies Takeuchi. The scab-causing Streptomyces spp. are well-adapted, successful plant pathogens that survive in soil also as saprophytes. Control of these pathogens has proved to be difficult. Most of the methods used to manage potato common scab are aimed at controlling S. scabies, the most common of the scab-causing pathogens. The studies in this thesis investigated S. scabies and S. turgidiscabies as causal organisms of common scab and explored new approaches for control of common scab that would be effective against both species. S. scabies and S. turgidiscabies are known to co-occur in the same fields and in the same tuber lesions in Finland. The present study showed that both these pathogens cause similar symptoms on potato tubers, and the types of symptoms varied depending on cultivar rather than the pathogen species. Pathogenic strains of S. turgidiscabies were antagonistic to S. scabies in vitro indicating that these two species may be competing for the same ecological niche. In addition, strains of S. turgidiscabies were highly virulent in potato and they tolerated lower pH than those of S. scabies. Taken together these results suggest that S. turgidiscabies has become a major problem in potato production in Finland. The bacterial phytotoxins, thaxtomins, are produced by the scab-causing Streptomyces spp. and are essential for the induction of scab symptoms. In this study, thaxtomins were produced in vitro and four thaxtomin compounds isolated and characterized. All four thaxtomins induced similar symptoms of reduced root and shoot growth, root swelling or necrosis on micro-propagated potato seedlings. The main phytotoxin, thaxtomin A, was used as a selective agent in a bioassay in vitro to screen F1 potato progeny from a single cross. Tolerance to thaxtomin A in vitro and scab resistance in the field were correlated indicating that the in vitro bioassay could be used in the early stages of a resistance breeding program to discard scab-susceptible genotypes and elevate the overall levels of common scab resistance in potato breeding populations. The potential for biological control of S. scabies and S. turgidiscabies using a non-pathogenic Streptomyces strain (346) isolated from a scab lesion and S. griseoviridis strain (K61) from a commercially available biocontrol product was studied. Both strains showed antagonistic activity against S. scabies and S. turgidiscabies in vitro and suppressed the development of common scab disease caused by S. turgidiscabies in the glasshouse. Furthermore, strain 346 reduced the incidence of S. turgidiscabies in scab lesions on potato tubers in the field. These results demonstrated for the first time the potential for biological control of S. turgidiscabies in the glasshouse and under field conditions and may be applied to enhance control of common scab in the future.
  • Yrjölä, Raimo (2006)
    A View into the World of Kitchen: Development and retention of a leading position in the market of kitchen interiors - a case study of 20 years. This study focuses on the development of a kitchen interiors company, presently called Novart Inc., into the leading company of the industry from 1980´s to the present. The objective of the study is to describe the effects of strategic choices, the decisions of the management and the owner´s direction and control to the build up and the retaining of the leading position in the market. From theory point of view, strategic choices refer to com-pany purchases as corporate-level strategies, and business and marketing strategies. The empirical research was carried out in two phases and it is based on various company documents and records, and on the intensive interviews of seven key executives in the company. An abductive research design was utilized. The company gained the leading position in the kitchen market in Finland by company purchases, and the company has been able to retain the position. Firstly the goal was to expand to retail market and, secondly, the company has maintained the balance of supply and demand by closing the purchased production units when needed. The simultaneous use of these two strategic goals is a kind of a new observation, and the strategy may be suitable only for market leaders. During the latter part of the research period the strategy of com-pany purchases has been abandoned and the leading position in the market has been main-tained by developing systematically business and marketing capability. In the business and marketing strategies the distribution channels and the brands have been emphasized. During the research period the company has almost totally abandoned the long distribution channels and started to use its own channels built and named after the main brands. These are A la Carte, Parma and Petra. At the moment, in the beginning of the 21st century, a new distribution channel, the concept of the Kitchen World, is being built in addition to the channels mentioned above. The management´s decision making and the implementation the decisions have been well-considered. The executives emphasized the valuing of the importance of the decisions dif-ferently except the two decisions named the most important ones, i.e., the decisions to start own production of the raw material and to concentrate the business only to one company. The executive staff has also succeeded in managing crisis and threats of bankruptcy, and the company has been managed profitable. During all the four terms of ownership: Puolimatka Corporation, the Hankkija/Novera Corporation, the ownership period of the "bank", and the Nobia Corporate the ownership direction and control has been somewhat different. All the owners have paid attention to economic issues. The direction of cash flows and investments was at its strongest during the Hankkija/Novera term. For the last owner Nobia the production and marketing of the kitchen interiors has been the core business, which thus has strengthened the business and marketing capabilities of the target company of this research. A common denominator during all the four terms of ownership has been owners' trust gained by the professional skills of the management of the target company. This has lead to greater independence of the management of the company and less owners´ direction. Keywords: leading position, marketing strategy, management decisions, acquisition, corporate governance
  • Väre, Minna (Maa- ja elintarviketalouden tutkimuskeskus, 2007)
    In the past decade, the Finnish agricultural sector has undergone rapid structural changes. The number of farms has decreased and the average farm size has increased when the number of farms transferred to new entrants has decreased. Part of the structural change in agriculture is manifested in early retirement programmes. In studying farmers exit behaviour in different countries, institutional differences, incentive programmes and constraints are found to matter. In Finland, farmers early retirement programmes were first introduced in 1974 and, during the last ten years, they have been carried out within the European Union framework for these programmes. The early retirement benefits are farmer specific and de-pend on the level of pension insurance the farmer has paid over his active farming years. In order to predict the future development of the agricultural sector, farmers have been frequently asked about their future plans and their plans for succession. However, the plans the farmers made for succession have been found to be time inconsistent. This study estimates the value of farmers stated succession plans in predicting revealed succession decisions. A stated succession plan exists when a farmer answers in a survey questionnaire that the farm is going to be transferred to a new entrant within a five-year period. The succession is revealed when the farm is transferred to a suc-cessor. Stated and revealed behaviour was estimated as a recursive Binomial Probit Model, which accounts for the censoring of the decision variables and controls for a potential correlation between the two equations. The results suggest that the succession plans, as stated by elderly farmers in the questionnaires, do not provide information that is significant and valuable in predicting true, com-pleted successions. Therefore, farmer exit should be analysed based on observed behaviour rather than on stated plans and intentions. As farm retirement plays a crucial role in determining the characteristics of structural change in agriculture, it is important to establish the factors which determine an exit from farming among eld-erly farmers and how off-farm income and income losses affect their exit choices. In this study, the observed choice of pension scheme by elderly farmers was analysed by a bivariate probit model. Despite some variations in significance and the effects of each factor, the ages of the farmer and spouse, the age and number of potential successors, farm size, income loss when retiring and the location of the farm together with the production line were found to be the most important determi-nants of early retirement and the transfer or closure of farms. Recently, the labour status of the spouse has been found to contribute significantly to individual retirement decisions. In this study, the effect of spousal retirement and economic incentives related to the timing of a farming couple s early retirement decision were analysed with a duration model. The results suggest that an expected pension in particular advances farm transfers. It was found that on farms operated by a couple, both early retirement and farm succession took place more often than on farms operated by a single person. However, the existence of a spouse delayed the timing of early retirement. Farming couples were found to co-ordinate their early retirement decisions when they both exit through agricultural retirement programmes, but such a co-ordination did not exist when one of the spouses retired under other pension schemes. Besides changes in the agricultural structure, the share and amount of off-farm income of a farm family s total income has also increased. In the study, the effect of off-farm income on farmers retirement decisions, in addition to other financial factors, was analysed. The unknown parameters were first estimated by a switching-type multivariate probit model and then by the simulated maxi-mum likelihood (SML) method, controlling for farmer specific fixed effects and serial correlation of the errors. The results suggest that elderly farmers off-farm income is a significant determinant in a farmer s choice to exit and close down the farm. However, off-farm income only has a short term effect on structural changes in agriculture since it does not significantly contribute to the timing of farm successions.
  • Bäckman, Stefan (2008)
    The purpose of this study was to evaluate intensity, productivity and efficiency in agriculture in Finland and show implications for N and P fertiliser management. Environmental concerns relating to agricultural production have been and still are focused on arguments about policies that affect agriculture. These policies constrain production while demand for agricultural products such as food, fibre and energy continuously increase. Therefore the importance of increasing productivity is a great challenge to agriculture. Over the last decades producers have experienced several large changes in the production environment such as the policy reform when Finland joined the EU 1995. Other and market changes occurred with the further EU enlargement with neighbouring countries in 2005 and with the decoupling of supports over the 2006-2007 period. Decreasing prices a decreased number of farmers and decreased profitability in agricultural production have resulted from these changes and constraints and of technological development. It is known that the accession to the EU 1995 would herald changes in agriculture. Especially of interest was how the sudden changes in prices of commodities on especially those of cereals, decreased by 60%, would influence agricultural production. The knowledge of properties of the production function increased in importance as a consequence of price changes. A research on the economic instruments to regulate productions was carried out and combined with earlier studies in paper V. In paper I the objective was to compare two different technologies, the conventional farming and the organic farming, determine differences in productivity and technical efficiency. In addition input specific or environmental efficiencies were analysed. The heterogeneity of agricultural soils and its implications were analysed in article II. In study III the determinants of technical inefficiency were analysed. The aspects and possible effects of the instability in policies due to a partial decoupling of production factors and products were studied in paper IV. Consequently connection between technical efficiency based on the turnover and the sales return was analysed in this study. Simple economic instruments such as fertiliser taxes have a direct effect on fertiliser consumption and indirectly increase the value of organic fertilisers. However, fertiliser taxes, do not fully address the N and P management problems adequately and are therefore not suitable for nutrient management improvements in general. Productivity of organic farms is lower on average than conventional farms and the difference increases when looking at selling returns only. The organic sector needs more research and development on productivity. Livestock density in organic farming increases productivity, however, there is an upper limit to livestock densities on organic farms and therefore nutrient on organic farms are also limited. Soil factors affects phosphorous and nitrogen efficiency. Soils like sand and silt have lower input specific overall efficiency for nutrients N and P. Special attention is needed for the management on these soils. Clay soils and soils with moderate clay content have higher efficiency. Soil heterogeneity is cause for an unavoidable inefficiency in agriculture.
  • Iho, Antti (MTT, 2010)
    Phosphorus is a nutrient needed in crop production. While boosting crop yields it may also accelerate eutrophication in the surface waters receiving the phosphorus runoff. The privately optimal level of phosphorus use is determined by the input and output prices, and the crop response to phosphorus. Socially optimal use also takes into account the impact of phosphorus runoff on water quality. Increased eutrophication decreases the economic value of surface waters by Deteriorating fish stocks, curtailing the potential for recreational activities and by increasing the probabilities of mass algae blooms. In this dissertation, the optimal use of phosphorus is modelled as a dynamic optimization problem. The potentially plant available phosphorus accumulated in soil is treated as a dynamic state variable, the control variable being the annual phosphorus fertilization. For crop response to phosphorus, the state variable is more important than the annual fertilization. The level of this state variable is also a key determinant of the runoff of dissolved, reactive phosphorus. Also the loss of particulate phosphorus due to erosion is considered in the thesis, as well as its mitigation by constructing vegetative buffers. The dynamic model is applied for crop production on clay soils. At the steady state, the analysis focuses on the effects of prices, damage parameterization, discount rate and soil phosphorus carryover capacity on optimal steady state phosphorus use. The economic instruments needed to sustain the social optimum are also analyzed. According to the results the economic incentives should be conditioned on soil phosphorus values directly, rather than on annual phosphorus applications. The results also emphasize the substantial effects the differences in varying discount rates of the farmer and the social planner have on optimal instruments. The thesis analyzes the optimal soil phosphorus paths from its alternative initial levels. It also examines how erosion susceptibility of a parcel affects these optimal paths. The results underline the significance of the prevailing soil phosphorus status on optimal fertilization levels. With very high initial soil phosphorus levels, both the privately and socially optimal phosphorus application levels are close to zero as the state variable is driven towards its steady state. The soil phosphorus processes are slow. Therefore, depleting high phosphorus soils may take decades. The thesis also presents a methodologically interesting phenomenon in problems of maximizing the flow of discounted payoffs. When both the benefits and damages are related to the same state variable, the steady state solution may have an interesting property, under very general conditions: The tail of the payoffs of the privately optimal path as well as the steady state may provide a higher social welfare than the respective tail of the socially optimal path. The result is formalized and an applied to the created framework of optimal phosphorus use.
  • Sipiläinen , Timo (MTT Taloustutkimus, 2008)
    The objective was to measure productivity growth and its components in Finnish agriculture, especially in dairy farming. The objective was also to compare different methods and models - both parametric (stochastic frontier analysis) and non-parametric (data envelopment analysis) - in estimating the components of productivity growth and the sensitivity of results with respect to different approaches. The parametric approach was also applied in the investigation of various aspects of heterogeneity. A common feature of the first three of five articles is that they concentrate empirically on technical change, technical efficiency change and the scale effect, mainly on the basis of the decompositions of Malmquist productivity index. The last two articles explore an intermediate route between the Fisher and Malmquist productivity indices and develop a detailed but meaningful decomposition for the Fisher index, including also empirical applications. Distance functions play a central role in the decomposition of Malmquist and Fisher productivity indices. Three panel data sets from 1990s have been applied in the study. The common feature of all data used is that they cover the periods before and after Finnish EU accession. Another common feature is that the analysis mainly concentrates on dairy farms or their roughage production systems. Productivity growth on Finnish dairy farms was relatively slow in the 1990s: approximately one percent per year, independent of the method used. Despite considerable annual variation, productivity growth seems to have accelerated towards the end of the period. There was a slowdown in the mid-1990s at the time of EU accession. No clear immediate effects of EU accession with respect to technical efficiency could be observed. Technical change has been the main contributor to productivity growth on dairy farms. However, average technical efficiency often showed a declining trend, meaning that the deviations from the best practice frontier are increasing over time. This suggests different paths of adjustment at the farm level. However, different methods to some extent provide different results, especially for the sub-components of productivity growth. In most analyses on dairy farms the scale effect on productivity growth was minor. A positive scale effect would be important for improving the competitiveness of Finnish agriculture through increasing farm size. This small effect may also be related to the structure of agriculture and to the allocation of investments to specific groups of farms during the research period. The result may also indicate that the utilization of scale economies faces special constraints in Finnish conditions. However, the analysis of a sample of all types of farms suggested a more considerable scale effect than the analysis on dairy farms.