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Yann Clough. Photo.

Yann Clough


Yann Clough. Photo.

Do improved pollination services outweigh farm-economic disadvantages of working in small-structured agricultural landscapes? – Development and application of a bio-economic model


  • Stefan Kirchweger
  • Yann Clough
  • Martin Kapfer
  • Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter
  • Jochen Kantelhardt

Summary, in English

Increases in the size of agricultural fields, the loss of permanent green field edges and other semi-natural habitats have accompanied the intensification of agriculture, and are still ongoing. From a farm economic perspective, an increase in field size increases efficiency mainly due to cost savings. However, recent evidence suggests that increases in field size might lead to the loss of ecosystem services provided by farmland biodiversity, but this trade-off is rarely considered. Here, we aim to quantify the economic and ecological effects of these changes by developing a bio-economic simulation-based land-use modelling framework based on spatially explicit data from an agricultural region in Germany. The results show a substantial decrease in flower visitation in oilseed rape when field sizes increase and permanent green edges are lost. This also leads to a decrease in pollination from wild bees and affects yields and farm economics. However, this loss in agricultural gross margin is overcompensated by economic gains of field enlargement. We conclude that further, more comprehensive evaluations are required and suggest that maintaining fine-grained agricultural landscapes with permanent field margins in the long term may require incentives to farmers, as well as innovations that allow to farm small fields at lower costs.


  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate

Publishing year





Ecological Economics



Document type

Journal article




  • Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use




  • ISSN: 0921-8009