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Achieving provisioning, regulating, supporting, and cultural ecosystem services in agricultural land

Updated: Oct 24, 2018

Christina Tonitto

Research Associate

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY, United


Agricultural landscapes comprise approximately 50% of global habitable land cover. Maximizing yield is often the dominant goal in agricultural landscapes. Given the extent of agricultural lands, it is important to manage agricultural landscapes to produce a range of ecosystem services. Agroecological approaches to food production balance crop yield with support for: 1) nutrient cycling and retention, 2) soil formation, 3) ecological pest control, and 4) biodiverse and multifunctional landscapes. Supporting diverse ecosystem services in addition to yield ensures the long-term productivity of the land-base and improves resource availability for human and non-human organisms living in the watershed.

Agroecological management goals that support the production of ecosystem services include: 1) increasing soil organic matter (SOM) production and retention, allowing retention of nutrients (such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P)) and accumulation of soil organic carbon (SOC), 2) reducing greenhouse gas emission (GHG), especially N2O or CH4, 3) reducing soil erosion, or 4) increasing the biodiversity of crop rotations. This presentation will discuss the potential for agricultural management to provide diverse ecosystem services, and present a new ecosystem services accounting tool - a statistical model of N2O emissions accounting developed to support farmer participation in voluntary GHG reduction programs.

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