Combined effects of agrochemicals and ecosystem services on crop yield across Europe

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter


Simultaneously enhancing ecosystem services provided by biodiversity below and above ground is recommended to reduce dependence on chemical pesticides and mineral fertilisers in agriculture. However, consequences for crop yield have been poorly evaluated. Above ground, increased landscape complexity is assumed to enhance biological pest control, whereas below ground, soil organic carbon is a proxy for several yield-supporting services. In a field experiment replicated in 114 fields across Europe, we found that fertilisation had the strongest positive effect on yield, but hindered simultaneous harnessing of below- and above-ground ecosystem services. We furthermore show that enhancing natural enemies and pest control through increasing landscape complexity can prove disappointing in fields with low soil services or in intensively cropped regions. Thus, understanding ecological interdependences between land use, ecosystem services and yield is necessary to promote more environmentally friendly farming by identifying situations where ecosystem services are maximised and agrochemical inputs can be reduced.


  • Vesna Gagic
  • David Kleijn
  • András Báldi
  • Gergely Boros
  • Zoltán Elek
  • Michael P. D. Garratt
  • G. Arjen de Groot
  • Anikó Kovács-Hostyánszki
  • Lorenzo Marini
  • Emily A. Martin
  • Ines Pevere
  • Simon G. Potts
  • Sarah Redlich
  • Deepa Senapathi
  • Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter
  • Stanislaw Świtek
  • Viktória Takács
  • Piotr Tryjanowski
  • Wim H. van der Putten
  • Stijn van Gils
  • Riccardo Bommarco
External organisations
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Wageningen University
  • University of Reading
  • University of Padova
  • Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg
  • Poznań University of Life Sciences
  • Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)
  • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
  • Institute of Ecology and Botany, HAS
  • Eötvös Loránd University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
  • Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use


  • Agricultural intensification, biological pest control, ecological intensification, fertilisers, insecticides, landscape complexity, soil organic carbon, yield loss
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1427-1436
Number of pages10
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Nov 1
Publication categoryResearch

Related projects

David Kleijn, Henrik Smith, Ullrika Sahlin, Mark Brady, Wim H. van der Putten, Simon G. Potts, Riccardo Bommarco, Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, Thomas Koellner, András Báldi, Lorenzo Marini, Piotr Tryjanowski, Barbara Gemmill-Herren, G. Arjen de Groot, Katarina Hedlund, Johan Ekroos & Charlotte Baey

European Commission - FP7


Project: Research

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