Quantifying ecosystem services trade-offs from agricultural practices

Marit Kragt, M.J. Robertson

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    78 Citations (Scopus)


    The concept of ecosystem services (ESS) is widely used to highlight the interdependencies between agricultural and environmental systems. However, few studies have attempted to quantify the potential of agriculture to produce multiple ESS, and to estimate the possibilities for joint production of marketed and non-marketed ESS. A quantification of the trade-offs between non-marketed ESS and production of farm commodities (marketed ESS) may help to better target agricultural policies. We use a well-established biophysical farm-systems model (APSIM) to estimate how alternative farm management practices affect the joint production of ESS on mixed crop-livestock farms in the wheatbelt of Western Australia. Our analysis quantifies the trade-offs between the supply of agricultural commodities (crop yields and livestock weight gain) and non-marketed ESS (groundcover, soil carbon, nitrogen supply, and water regulation). Win-win trade-offs between marketed and non-marketed ESS become apparent when the value of agricultural commodity production is monetised. This study shows that, in our study regions, increasing crop residue retention can jointly increase production value and improve ESS provision of groundcover, soil carbon and nitrogen supply. Conversely, increasing the use of perennial pastures in the farming mix results in negative trade-offs between production values and non-marketed ESS. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)147-157
    JournalEcological Economics
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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