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Monitoring the Impact of Hedgerows and Grass Strips on the Performance of Multiple Ecosystem Service Indicators

Environmental Management


The importance of semi-natural vegetation elements in the agricultural landscape is increasingly recognized because they have the potential to enhance multiple ecosystem service delivery and biodiversity. However, there is great variability in the observed effects within and between studies. Also, little is known about the simultaneous delivery of multiple ecosystem services and biodiversity because most studies focus on monitoring one service at a time and in conditions specifically suited to observe this one service. In this study, the results are presented of 1 year of monitoring of a set of parcel-level and simplistic ecosystem service and biodiversity indicators on parcels with grass strips or hedgerows. In the grass strips, an increase in soil organic carbon stock, a decrease in soil mineral nitrogen content, a different carabid species composition and a higher spider activity density were found, compared to the adjacent arable parcel. These results indicate a contribution of grass strips to climate regulation, the regulation of water quality, an increase of beta diversity and potential for pest control. Next to hedgerows, crop yield was reduced and winter wheat thousand kernel weight, soil organic carbon stock and spider activity density were increased. These indicators show an effect of the hedgerow on food production, climate regulation and potential for pest control. The study concludes that both grass strips and hedgerows have the potential to increase multiple ecosystem service delivery, but that an increase of every service is not assured and that multifunctionality is affected by management choices. Also, an improved experimental setup in order to enhance ecosystem service monitoring is suggested.

Author(s): Van Vooren, L; Reubens, B; Ampoorter, E; Broekx, S; Pardon, P; Van Waes, C; Verheyen, K

Journal: Environmental Management

Year: 2018


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