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Farmers’ management of functional biodiversity goes beyond pest management in organic European apple orchards

Penvern, S.; Fernique, S.; Cardona, A.; Herz, A.; Ahrenfeldt, E.; Dufils, A.; Jamar, L.; Korsgaard, M.; Kruczynska, D.; Matray, S.; Ozolina-Pole, L.; Porcel, M.; Ralle, B.; Steinemann, B.; Swiergiel, W.; Tasin, M.; Telfser, J.; Warlop, F. and Sigsgaard, L. (2019) Farmers’ management of functional biodiversity goes beyond pest management in organic European apple orchards. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 284, p. 106555.

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Document available online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167880919301550


Supporting functional biodiversity (FB), which provides natural pest regulation, is an environmentally sound and promising approach to reduce pesticide use in perennial cultures such as apple, especially in organic farming. However, little is known about farmers’ practices and motivations to implement techniques that favor FB, especially whether or not they really expect anything from FB in terms of pest regulation. In fact, FB-supporting techniques (FB-techniques) are massively questioned by practitioners due to inadequate information about their effectiveness. An interview survey was performed in eight European countries(i) to describe farmers’ practices and identify promising FB-techniques: (ii) to better understand their perceptions of and values associated with FB; and (iii) to identify potential drivers of (non-)adoption. Fifty-five advisors and 125 orchard managers with various degrees of experience and convictions about FB were interviewed and a total of 24 different FB-techniques which can be assigned to three different categories (ecological infrastructures, farming practices and redesign techniques) were described. Some were well-established measures (e.g., hedges and bird houses), while others were more marginal and more recent (e.g., animal introduction and compost). On average, farmers combined more than four techniques that had been implemented over a period of 13 years, especially during their establishment or conversion period. In general, it was difficult for farmers to evaluate the effectiveness of individual FB-techniques on pest regulation. They considered FB-techniques as a whole, targeting multiple species, and valued multiple ecosystem services in addition to pest regulation. The techniques implemented and their associated values differed among farmers who adopted various approaches towards FB. Three different approaches were defined: passive, active and integrated. Their appraisal of FB is even more complex because it may change with time and experience. These findings provide empirical evidence that the practical implementation of promising techniques remains a challenge, considering the diversity of situations and evaluation criteria. Increased cooperation between researchers, farmers and advisors should more effectively target research, advisory support and communication to meet farmers’ needs and perceptions.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Fruit, Ecosystem service, Stakeholder value, Tracking innovation, On-farm conservation practice, Practitioner’sdecision-making, biodiversity, Fruit-growing
Subjects: Environmental aspects > Biodiversity and ecosystem services
Crop husbandry > Production systems > Fruit and berries
Crop husbandry > Crop health, quality, protection
Research affiliation:Belgium > Wallonia > Centre Wallon de Recherche Agronomique (CRA-W) (Gembloux)
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Crops > Crop protection > Entomology
Germany > Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants - JKI
Denmark > KU - University of Copenhagen
European Union > CORE Organic > CORE Organic Plus > ECOORCHARD
France > GRAB - Groupe de Recherche en Agriculture biologique
France > INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
Italy > Laimburg Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry of BZ Province
Latvia > Latvian Plant Protection Research Centre
Sweden > Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)
Denmark > Other organizations
Deposited By: Steinemann, Beatrice
ID Code:37553
Deposited On:13 Mar 2020 11:11
Last Modified:25 Nov 2020 15:17
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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