delivery of the ecosystem services that underpin agricultural production allowing us to reduce our
reliance on synthetic inputs. The potential of ecological intensification will depend on many factors,
among the most important of which are off-field management and landscape context. These factors,
and importantly the interaction between them, are likely to vary across regions and countries.
Identifying off-field management approaches that are successful in enhancing ecosystem services will
require assessing a range of strategies. The empirical work carried out in task 3.2 provided original
data on the effectiveness of three off-field interventions (hedgerow, set- aside and flower strips) on
the delivery of biocontrol and yield in winter cereals across different European countries. For
hedgerows we found that the quality of the hedgerow (flower diversity) generally increased
biodiversity of several beneficial groups of insects (e.g. butterflies, tachinids, carabids, spiders), while
the delivery of ecosystems services such as pollination and pest control tended to respond more to
landscape factors (proportion of hedgerows or semi-natural habitats in general in the surrounding).
For set-aside we found that this intervention increased locally the biodiversity of several beneficial
insect groups (literature) but the spillover to winter wheat fields was small with no apparent benefit
on the delivery of aphid biocontrol. Finally, we found that wildflower strips helped to reduce aphid
pests in winter wheat fields, which, in turn, enhanced crop yield. However, this potential may only be
reached in case strips are properly managed, in a way that optimizes floral diversity, and may only be
relevant in agricultural landscapes with a low availability of habitat area for natural enemies.
Irrespective of the intensity of the agricultural systems, the two most promising interventions to
foster biocontrol and support yield in winter wheats are hedgerows and flower strips, but their effect
appeared to be stronger in landscapes with low cover of existing semi-natural habitats.
|Publisher||FP7 Project Liberation|
|Number of pages||32|
|Publication status||Published - 25 Jan 2016|