Global change may endanger agricultural landscape in the future. Biodiversity has the potential to buffer agro-ecosystems against change and stabilise them. However, the suitable level of biodiversity to maximise ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes is not yet quantified and ongoing, rapid decline of plant, insect, and bird diversity across Europe in agricultural landscapes may compromise ecosystem functioning in the future.
The objectives of BASIL are to:
- Understand differences between extensively and intensively managed agricultural landscapes in terms of biodiversity and provisioning, regulating and supporting ecosystem services (ESS), for instance water quality, soil conservation, preservation of soil structure and biodiversity, C and N storage, weed and pest control.
- Determine the contribution of plant and microbial diversity to the closure of nutrient cycles, the synchronisation of plant nitrogen (N) requirement and N delivery by soil, and the coupling of carbon (C) and N cycles.
- Determine the necessary level of integration of biodiversity that is required to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture by performing landscape trait-based analyses.
- Identify particular landscape structures and cropping systems promoting biodiversity and its contribution to targeted ESS.
- Assess the importance of different policies and governance systems having an impact on environmental and economic sustainability via agricultural landscape management.
- Mixed plantings of wheat with grassland species significantly reduced both nitrate leaching and wheat yield.
- The heterogeneity of agricultural landscapes in terms of the number of natural elements such as hedges and infield kettle holes increased the density of earthworms as key ecosystem engineers enhancing soil structure and fertility. The closeness of infield kettle holes was especially important to enhance soil moisture within surrounding agricultural fields.
- The density of mycorrhizal fungi, the diversity of soil fungi as well as the concentration of N, P and organic C in the soils linearly decreased within 50 m from the edge of a natural habitat to the centre of wheat fields.
- Wheat seed-predation decreased in the neighbourhood of natural habitats, whereas in the intensively managed agricultural landscape, wheat pathogenic fungi and the wheat yield decreased towards the unfertilised and untreated borders with natural habitats - especially in the first 20 m from the edge.
- The naming of a program intended to enhance ecosystem services and biodiversity influenced farmers; direct financial support is a strong argument for management change enhancing biodiversity, and farmers’ and farmer societies’ recommendations is highly valued whereas scientists' recommendations is less considered depending on the geographic origin of the farmers.