Measures of the effects of agricultural practices on ecosystem services

Virginia H. Dale, Stephen Polasky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

267 Scopus citations


Agriculture produces more than just crops. Agricultural practices have environmental impacts that affect a wide range of ecosystem services, including water quality, pollination, nutrient cycling, soil retention, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity conservation. In turn, ecosystem services affect agricultural productivity. Understanding the contribution of various agricultural practices to the range of ecosystem services would help inform choices about the most beneficial agricultural practices. To accomplish this, however, we must overcome a big challenge in measuring the impact of alternative agricultural practices on ecosystem services and of ecosystem services on agricultural production. A framework is presented in which such indicators can be interpreted as well as the criteria for selection of indicators. The relationship between agricultural practices and land-use change and erosion impact on chemical use is also discussed. Together these ideas form the basis for identifying useful indicators for quantifying the costs and benefits of agricultural systems for the range of ecosystem services interrelated to agriculture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-296
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 15 2007


  • Agriculture
  • Chemical
  • Ecosystem services
  • Erosion
  • Land use

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