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Mark Brady

Biodiversity as an input - boosting food production without ravaging the environment?

It is argued that ecological intensification, whereby farmers implement measures to conserve biodiversity, could be used to reduce the use of environmentally damaging inputs by substituting with higher levels of intermediate ecosystem services (e.g., biological control of crop pests by their natural enemies can reduce the need for pesticides); thus combining food production with environmental protection.

The aim of this project is to evaluate the potential of ecological intensification to boost food production without ravaging the environment. To do this we link an agricultural economic optimization model to a GIS-based ecosystem-services production function. Together these models can be used to optimize the mix of external inputs (e.g. mineral fertilizer) and the spatial distribution of biodiversity conservation measures to increase flows of ecosystem services. We will perform the evaluation for a number of representative arable landscapes across the EU.

The project is in collaboration with the Centre for Environmental and Climate Research (CEC) and is to be completed during 2018.