Benefits of increasing plant diversity in sustainable agroecosystems

Forest Isbell, Paul R. Adler, Nico Eisenhauer, Dario Fornara, Kaitlin Kimmel, Claire Kremen, Deborah K. Letourneau, Matt Liebman, H. Wayne Polley, Sandra Quijas, Michael Scherer-Lorenzen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

53 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent studies have revealed many potential benefits of increasing plant diversity in natural ecosystems, as well as in agroecosystems and production forests. Plant diversity potentially provides a partial to complete substitute for many costly agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers, pesticides, imported pollinators and irrigation. Diversification strategies include enhancing crop genetic diversity, mixed plantings, rotating crops, agroforestry and diversifying landscapes surrounding croplands. Here we briefly review studies considering how increasing plant diversity influences the production of crops, forage, and wood, yield stability, and several regulating and supporting agroecosystem services. We also discuss challenges and recommendations for diversifying agroecosystems. There is consistently strong evidence that strategically increasing plant diversity increases crop and forage yield, wood production, yield stability, pollinators, weed suppression and pest suppression, whereas effects of diversification on soil nutrients and carbon remain poorly understood. Synthesis. The benefits of diversifying agroecosystems are expected to be greatest where the aims are to sustainably intensify production while reducing conventional inputs or to optimize both yields and ecosystem services. Over the next few decades, as monoculture yields continue to decelerate or decline for many crops, and as demand for ecosystem services continues to rise, diversification could become an essential tool for sustaining production and ecosystem services in croplands, rangelands and production forests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)871-879
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Ecology
Volume105
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

Fingerprint

agricultural ecosystem
agroecosystems
timber production
ecosystem services
ecosystem service
crop
pollinators
pollinator
crops
forage crops
forage yield
agroforestry
rangelands
soil nutrients
crop production
weed control
crop yield
monoculture
pesticides
soil carbon

Keywords

  • agroecology
  • biodiversity
  • ecosystem functioning
  • ecosystem services
  • ecosystem stability
  • productivity
  • yield

Cite this

Isbell, F., Adler, P. R., Eisenhauer, N., Fornara, D., Kimmel, K., Kremen, C., ... Scherer-Lorenzen, M. (2017). Benefits of increasing plant diversity in sustainable agroecosystems. Journal of Ecology, 105(4), 871-879. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.12789

Benefits of increasing plant diversity in sustainable agroecosystems. / Isbell, Forest; Adler, Paul R.; Eisenhauer, Nico; Fornara, Dario; Kimmel, Kaitlin; Kremen, Claire; Letourneau, Deborah K.; Liebman, Matt; Polley, H. Wayne; Quijas, Sandra; Scherer-Lorenzen, Michael.

In: Journal of Ecology, Vol. 105, No. 4, 01.07.2017, p. 871-879.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Isbell, F, Adler, PR, Eisenhauer, N, Fornara, D, Kimmel, K, Kremen, C, Letourneau, DK, Liebman, M, Polley, HW, Quijas, S & Scherer-Lorenzen, M 2017, 'Benefits of increasing plant diversity in sustainable agroecosystems', Journal of Ecology, vol. 105, no. 4, pp. 871-879. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.12789
Isbell F, Adler PR, Eisenhauer N, Fornara D, Kimmel K, Kremen C et al. Benefits of increasing plant diversity in sustainable agroecosystems. Journal of Ecology. 2017 Jul 1;105(4):871-879. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.12789
Isbell, Forest ; Adler, Paul R. ; Eisenhauer, Nico ; Fornara, Dario ; Kimmel, Kaitlin ; Kremen, Claire ; Letourneau, Deborah K. ; Liebman, Matt ; Polley, H. Wayne ; Quijas, Sandra ; Scherer-Lorenzen, Michael. / Benefits of increasing plant diversity in sustainable agroecosystems. In: Journal of Ecology. 2017 ; Vol. 105, No. 4. pp. 871-879.
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