Valuing Supporting Soil Ecosystem Services in Agriculture: A Natural Capital Approach
Brady, M.V. ; Hedlund, K. ; Cong, R.G. ; Hemerik, L. ; Hotes, S. ; Machado, S. ; Mattson, L. ; Schulz, E. ; Thomsen, I.K. - \ 2015
Agronomy Journal 107 (2015)5. - ISSN 0002-1962 - p. 1809 - 1821.
Soil biodiversity through its delivery of ecosystem functions and attendant supporting ecosystem services—benefits soil organisms generate for farmers—underpins agricultural production. Yet lack of practical methods to value the long-term effects of current farming practices results, inevitably, in short-sighted management decisions. We present a method for valuing changes in supporting soil ecosystem services and associated soil natural capital—the value of the stock of soil organisms—in agriculture, based on resultant changes in future farm income streams. We assume that a relative change in soil organic C (SOC) concentration is correlated with changes in soil biodiversity and the generation of supporting ecosystem services. To quantify the effects of changes in supporting services on agricultural productivity, we fitted production functions to data from long-term field experiments in Europe and the United States. The different agricultural treatments at each site resulted in significant changes in SOC concentrations with time. Declines in associated services are shown to reduce both maximum yield and fertilizer-use efficiency in the future. The average depreciation of soil natural capital, for a 1% relative reduction in SOC concentration, was 144 € ha–1 (SD 47 € ha–1) when discounting future values to their current value at 3%; the variation was explained by site-specific factors and the current SOC concentration. Moreover, the results show that soil ecosystem services cannot be fully replaced by purchased inputs; they are imperfect substitutes. We anticipate that our results will both encourage and make it possible to include the value of soil natural capital in decisions.
Intensive agriculture reduces soil biodiversity across Europe
Tsiafouli, M.A. ; Thébault, E. ; Sgardelis, S. ; Ruiter, P.C. de; Putten, W.H. van der; Birkhofer, K. ; Hemerik, L. ; Vries, F.T. de; Bardgett, R.D. ; Brady, M. ; Bjornlund, L. ; Bracht Jörgensen, H. ; Christensen, S. ; Herfelt, T. D'; Hotes, S. ; Hol, W.H.G. ; Frouz, J. ; Liiri, M. ; Mortimer, S.R. ; Setälä, H. ; Stary, J. ; Tzanopoulos, J. ; Uteseny, C. ; Wolters, V. ; Hedlund, K. - \ 2015
Global Change Biology 21 (2015)2. - ISSN 1354-1013 - p. 973 - 985.
food-web structure - land-use intensity - taxonomic distinctness - community structure - phylogenetic diversity - arthropod communities - temporal variability - 7-year period - ecosystem - management
Soil biodiversity plays a key role in regulating the processes that underpin the delivery of ecosystem goods and services in terrestrial ecosystems. Agricultural intensification is known to change the diversity of individual groups of soil biota, but less is known about how intensification affects biodiversity of the soil food web as a whole, and whether or not these effects may be generalized across regions. We examined biodiversity in soil food webs from grasslands, extensive, and intensive rotations in four agricultural regions across Europe: in Sweden, the UK, the Czech Republic and Greece. Effects of land-use intensity were quantified based on structure and diversity among functional groups in the soil food web, as well as on community-weighted mean body mass of soil fauna. We also elucidate land-use intensity effects on diversity of taxonomic units within taxonomic groups of soil fauna. We found that between regions soil food web diversity measures were variable, but that increasing land-use intensity caused highly consistent responses. In particular, land-use intensification reduced the complexity in the soil food webs, as well as the community-weighted mean body mass of soil fauna. In all regions across Europe, species richness of earthworms, Collembolans, and oribatid mites was negatively affected by increased land-use intensity. The taxonomic distinctness, which is a measure of taxonomic relatedness of species in a community that is independent of species richness, was also reduced by land-use intensification. We conclude that intensive agriculture reduces soil biodiversity, making soil food webs less diverse and composed of smaller bodied organisms. Land-use intensification results in fewer functional groups of soil biota with fewer and taxonomically more closely related species. We discuss how these changes in soil biodiversity due to land-use intensification may threaten the functioning of soil in agricultural production systems.
Urban and agricultural soils: conflicts and trade-offs in the optimization of ecosystem services
Setälä, H. ; Bardgett, R.D. ; Birkhofer, K. ; Brady, M. ; Byrne, L. ; Ruiter, P.C. de; Vries, F.T. de; Gardi, C. ; Hedlund, K. ; Hemerik, A. ; Hotes, S. ; Liiri, M. ; Mortimer, S.R. ; Pavao-Zuckerman, M. ; Pouyat, R. ; Tsiafouli, M. ; Putten, W.H. van der - \ 2014
Urban Ecosystems 17 (2014)1. - ISSN 1083-8155 - p. 239 - 253.
biological-control - land-use - functional composition - united-states - landscapes - conservation - impact - carbon - infrastructure - sustainability
On-going human population growth and changing patterns of resource consumption are increasing global demand for ecosystem services, many of which are provided by soils. Some of these ecosystem services are linearly related to the surface area of pervious soil, whereas others show non-linear relationships, making ecosystem service optimization a complex task. As limited land availability creates conflicting demands among various types of land use, a central challenge is how to weigh these conflicting interests and how to achieve the best solutions possible from a perspective of sustainable societal development. These conflicting interests become most apparent in soils that are the most heavily used by humans for specific purposes: urban soils used for green spaces, housing, and other infrastructure and agricultural soils for producing food, fibres and biofuels. We argue that, despite their seemingly divergent uses of land, agricultural and urban soils share common features with regards to interactions between ecosystem services, and that the trade-offs associated with decision-making, while scale- and context-dependent, can be surprisingly similar between the two systems. We propose that the trade-offs within land use types and their soil-related ecosystems services are often disproportional, and quantifying these will enable ecologists and soil scientists to help policy makers optimizing management decisions when confronted with demands for multiple services under limited land availability.
Soil food web properties explain ecosystem services across European land use systems
Vries, F.T. de; Thebault, E.M.C. ; Liiri, M. ; Birkhofer, K. ; Tsiafouli, M. ; Bjornlund, L. ; Jorgensen, H.B. ; Brady, M.V. ; Christensen, S. ; Ruiter, P.C. de; Hertefeldt, T. d'; Frouz, J. ; Hedlund, K. ; Hemerik, L. ; Hol, W.H.G. ; Hotes, S. ; Mortimer, S.R. ; Setälä, H. ; Sgardelis, S.P. ; Uteseny, K. ; Putten, W.H. van der; Wolters, V. ; Bardgett, R.D. - \ 2013
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110 (2013)35. - ISSN 0027-8424 - p. 14296 - 14301.
nitrogen mineralization - carbon sequestration - bacterial community - mycorrhizal fungi - biomass - scale - intensification - decomposition - biodiversity - agriculture
Intensive land use reduces the diversity and abundance of many soil biota, with consequences for the processes that they govern and the ecosystem services that these processes underpin. Relationships between soil biota and ecosystem processes have mostly been found in laboratory experiments and rarely are found in the field. Here, we quantified, across four countries of contrasting climatic and soil conditions in Europe, how differences in soil food web composition resulting from land use systems (intensive wheat rotation, extensive rotation, and permanent grassland) influence the functioning of soils and the ecosystem services that they deliver. Intensive wheat rotation consistently reduced the biomass of all components of the soil food web across all countries. Soil food web properties strongly and consistently predicted processes of C and N cycling across land use systems and geographic locations, and they were a better predictor of these processes than land use. Processes of carbon loss increased with soil food web properties that correlated with soil C content, such as earthworm biomass and fungal/bacterial energy channel ratio, and were greatest in permanent grassland. In contrast, processes of N cycling were explained by soil food web properties independent of land use, such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and bacterial channel biomass. Our quantification of the contribution of soil organisms to processes of C and N cycling across land use systems and geographic locations shows that soil biota need to be included in C and N cycling models and highlights the need to map and conserve soil biodiversity across the world.
Form follows function? Proposing a blueprint for ecosystem service assessments based on reviews and case studies
Seppelt, R. ; Fath, B. ; Burkhard, B. ; Fisher, J.L. ; Grêt-Regamey, A. ; Lautenbach, S. ; Pert, P. ; Hotes, S. ; Spangenberg, J. ; Verburg, P.H. ; Oudenhoven, A.P.E. van - \ 2012
Ecological Indicators 21 (2012). - ISSN 1470-160X - p. 145 - 154.
watershed management - land-use - conservation - models - biodiversity - valuation - projects - science - goods
Ecosystem service assessments (ESA) hold the promise of supporting the quantification and valuation of human appropriation of nature and its goods and services. The concept has taken flight with the number of studies published on the topic increasing rapidly. This development, and the variation of diverging approaches, support innovative ideas and may lead to complementary insights from various perspectives. However, at the same time this slows scientific synthesis through increasing uncertainty with respect to the appropriate methodologies to be used to support solving environmental management problems. We analyzed ESA and the underlying concepts based on the variety of available publications and reviews, which revealed a number of different methods, uncertain reliability and robustness. In order to facilitate comparison, evaluation and synthesis of ecosystem service assessments we propose a blueprint for reporting studies in a structured way. By exemplifying this with worked examples, we argue that the use of such a blueprint will (i) assist in achieving improved communication and collaboration in transdisciplinary teams; (ii) reveal methodological aspects, important for the interpretation of results; (iii) support robustness and reliability of assessments; (iv) aid in structuring assessment studies and monitoring programs; (v) provide a base for comparing and synthesizing results of different studies (e.g. in meta-analysis), and thus (vi) provide a base for further implementation of ESA
How atmospheric N deposition affects peatland vegetation composition, production and Sphagnum N concentration: an analysis of 30 fertilization sturdies across the Northern Hemisphere
Limpens, J. ; Granath, G. ; Gunnarsson, U. ; Aerts, R. ; Bragazza, L. ; Breeuwer, A.J.G. ; Bubier, J. ; Berg, L. van den; Franchez, A.J. ; Gerdol, R. ; Heijmans, M.M.P.D. ; Hoosbeek, M.R. ; Hotes, S. ; Ilomets, M. ; Mitchell, E. ; Moore, T. ; Nilsson, M. ; Nordbakken, J.F. ; Paulissen, M.P.C.P. ; Risager, M. ; Rochefort, L. ; Rydin, H. ; Sheppard, L. ; Thormann, M. ; Tomassen, H. ; Williams, B. - \ 2009
In: Working Papers of the Finnish Forest Research Institute 128, Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Ecosystem Behaviour BIOGEOMON 2009, Helsinki, Finland, 29 June - 3 July 2009. - Vantaa, Finland : Finnish Forest Research Institute - ISBN 9789514021763 - p. 251 - 251.