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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
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  3. In the past few decades, farmers and researchers have firmly established that biologically diversified farming systems improve ecosystem services both on and off the farm, producing economic benefits for farmers and ecological benefits for surrounding landscapes. However, adoption of these practices has been slow, requiring a more nuanced examination of both barriers and opportunities to improve adoption rates. While previous research has demonstrated that both individual and structural factors shape farmers' decisions about whether to adopt diversification practices, this study aims to understand the interaction of these individual and structural factors, and how they relate to farm scale. Based on 20 interviews with organic lettuce growers on the Central Coast of California, as well as 8 interviews with technical assistance providers who work with these growers, we constructed a typology to help elucidate the distinct contexts that shape growers' decisions about diversification practices. This typology, which reflects the structural influence of land rent and supply chains, divides growers into three categories: limited resource, mid-scale diversified, or wholesale. In this economic context, limited resource and wholesale growers both experience significant barriers that constrain the adoption of diversification practices, while some mid-scale diversified growers have found a “sweet spot” for managing agroecosystemsmore »that can succeed in both economic and ecological terms. The key enabling factors that allow these farmers to choose diversification, however, are not directly related to their farm size, but have more to do with secure land tenure, adequate access to capital and resources, and buyers who share their values and are willing to pay a premium. By focusing on these key enabling factors with targeted policies, we believe it is possible to encourage diversification practices on farms at a variety of scales within California's Central Coast.« less
  4. Nathan, Ran (Ed.)
  5. Mori, Akira (Ed.)
    Diversifying agricultural landscapes may mitigate biodiversity declines and improve pest management. Yet landscapes are rarely managed to suppress pests, in part because researchers seldom measure key variables related to pest outbreaks and insecticides that drive management decisions. We used a 13‐year government database to analyse landscape effects on European grapevine moth (Lobesia botrana) outbreaks and insecticides across c. 400 Spanish vineyards. At harvest, we found pest outbreaks increased four‐fold in simplified, vineyard‐dominated landscapes compared to complex landscapes in which vineyards are surrounded by semi‐natural habitats. Similarly, insecticide applications doubled in vineyard‐dominated landscapes but declined in vineyards surrounded by shrubland. Importantly, pest population stochasticity would have masked these large effects if numbers of study sites and years were reduced to typical levels in landscape pest‐control studies. Our results suggest increasing landscape complexity may mitigate pest populations and insecticide applications. Habitat conservation represents an economically and environmentally sound approach for achieving sustainable grape production.
  6. Human land use threatens global biodiversity and compromises multiple ecosystem functions critical to food production. Whether crop yield–related ecosystem services can be maintained by a few dominant species or rely on high richness remains unclear. Using a global database from 89 studies (with 1475 locations), we partition the relative importance of species richness, abundance, and dominance for pollination; biological pest control; and final yields in the context of ongoing land-use change. Pollinator and enemy richness directly supported ecosystem services in addition to and independent of abundance and dominance. Up to 50% of the negative effects of landscape simplification on ecosystem services was due to richness losses of service-providing organisms, with negative consequences for crop yields. Maintaining the biodiversity of ecosystem service providers is therefore vital to sustain the flow of key agroecosystem benefits to society.