Research Institute for Organic Agriculture, Frick

Agricultural extension gives rise to greater proportions of biodiversity priority areas of higher quality

The shortage of high-quality Biodiversity Priority Areas (BPAs) is one reason for the ongoing decline in biodiversity in the cultural landscape. Many farm holdings have the potential to increase the quality of their BPAs. One approach to leveraging this potential is whole-farm extension, which takes into account both the ecological and economic parameters of the farm. A comparison between farms that availed themselves of extension services and those that did not has shown that after six years, the former have established and manage a greater proportion of their land as BPAs, and that these BPAs are of higher quality. On farms that availed themselves of extension services, BPAs accounted for as much as 15,1 % of the total utilised agricultural area (UAA) and BPAs of Quality Grade II constituted 6,1 % of the UAA, whilst the figures for the control group stood at 10,7 % and 2,6 %, respectively. Moreover, farms that made use of extension services established BPA types of greater diversity, and the BPAs they created on arable land were ten times as valuable as those of the control group. Additionally, a comparison of the biodiversity premiums paid has shown that extension yields economic benefits: the higher premiums achieved can amortise the cost of whole-farm extension within just a few years.

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