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Do farm management practices alter below-ground biodiversity and ecosystem function? Implications for sustainable land management 2006

Terrestrial Human Activities JNCC Publications 0963-8091 Evidence Farming JNCC report series Land use Monitoring 364 Biodiversity Ecosystem Natural resources


Organic farming practices have recently been shown to benefit a wide range of above-ground taxa through increases in abundance and/or species richness. In relation to policy development, there is a parallel need to collate evidence on whether management practices that contribute to this effect above-ground (e.g. prohibition/reduced use of chemical pesticides and inorganic fertilizers) similarly effect below-ground biodiversity. Through a combined process of literature review and stakeholder interaction through expert groups this report addresses this issue but also considers the effects of below-ground biodiversity on the maintenance and enhancement of a range of ecosystem services.

Reported evidence suggests below-ground biodiversity benefits associated with reducing the intensity of use of mechanical and manufactured inputs in lowland systems. Evidence from hill and upland systems is insufficient to allow such conclusions. However, the evidence is not strong enough to draw conclusions about the effects of farming systems per se (e.g. organic versus integrated). This in part reflects the limitations of experimental design and the difficulties of transferring the results of reductionist research approaches to practical agriculture. This relates specifically to interactions between individual practices associated with producing a particular crop/crop sequence. Furthermore, it is clear that best practice is likely to be farm and even micro-site specific due to the complexity of interactions between soil organisms, soil type, weather and management factors. There is a critical need to address how current knowledge can be translated into guidance for land managers and policy makers.

Resource type Publication

Topic category Environment

Reference date 2006·08·01

Stockdale, E.A., Watson, C.A., Black, H.I.J. & Philipps, L. 2006. Do farm management practices alter below-ground biodiversity and ecosystem function? Implications for sustainable land management. JNCC Report No. 364, JNCC, Peterborough, ISSN 0963-8091.

This review was initiated to address the need to understand the role of below-ground biodiversity in agricultural systems.

Responsible organisation
Communications, JNCC publisher

Limitations on public access No limitations

Use constraints Available under the Open Government Licence 3.0

Metadata date 2020·10·14

Metadata point of contact
Communications, JNCC

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