Sustainable agriculture faces the challenge of producing sufficient food for a growing and wealthier population, while preserving biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services. Different approaches for sustainable agriculture applied in farming systems include: mixed cropping, including natural elements in agricultural fields, reducing pollution caused by fertilisers and pesticides (by applying less amount or through precision agriculture), or advancing technology to increase productivity on existing land and simultaneously preventing land conversion.
Global models of biodiversity and ecosystem services, such as GLOBIO, are useful tools to evaluate the effects of these approaches on food production, biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services. Current global models consider a limited set of farming systems, based on fertilizer use to address the impacts of agriculture on biodiversity and ecosystem services, whereas in reality there is an array of farming systems with different levels of (crop) species’ mixture and different levels of intensity, all with different impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
This PhD aims to assess the impact of the existing array of farming systems on biodiversity, ecosystem services and pollution. A typology of farming systems based on species mixture and intensity will be developed. Next, the farming systems will be characterised in terms of biodiversity, provision of ecosystem services and pollution they generate. This information will be incorporated in the GLOBIO model and applied to future scenarios to explore futures of biodiversity in relation to sustainable agriculture.