The effects of scale in organic agriculture

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Award: RES-227-25-0006
Project Newsletter
Project website
PI: Sigrid Stagl, Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex
Dates: 01/01/2006 - 30/05/2010
 
A move to organic farming can have significant effects on wildlife, soil and water quality, as well as changing the ways in which food is supplied, the economics of farm business and indeed the attitudes of farmers themselves. Two key questions are addressed: what causes organic farms to be arranged in clusters at local, regional and national scales, rather than be spread more evenly throughout the landscape; and how do the ecological, hydrological, socio-economic and cultural impacts of organic farming vary due to neighbourhood effects at a variety of scales.

Data created

Ecological survey data from organic and conventional farms
Ecological field survey of 16 paired field sites; each pair consisting of an organic and conventional farm. A multiscale sampling design was employed to assess the impact of (i) location-within-field (field margin vs. edge vs. centre), (ii) crop type (arable cereal vs. permanent pasture), (iii) farm management (organic vs. conventional) and (iv) landscape-scale management (landscapes that contained low or high fractions of organic land) on a wide range of taxa. Studied taxa include birds, insect pollinators (hoverflies, bumblebees and solitary bees), epigeal arthropods, aphids and their natural enemies, earthworms and plants.

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Data type: Quantitative
Data format: MS Excel
Sample size: 16 paired farms
Country: United Kingdom
Status: Data released
Farmer interviews on organic farming
Interviews with 48 farmers, 21 of which organic farmers, on farm history and future plans, perceptions and experience of organic farming, definitions of 'good farming' and social network participation.

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Data type: Qualitative
Data format: MS Word
Sample size: 48 farmers of which 21 organic farmers
Country: United Kingdom
Status: Data released
Soil data of farm fields
Field data for paired sites of farms (organic and conventional), sampling 64 farm fields, measuring soil texture and structural condition, aggregate stability, organic matter content, soil shear strength, fuel consumption, work rate, infiltration rate, water quality and hydrological condition (HOST).

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Data type: Quantitative
Data format: MS Excel
Sample size: 64 farm fields on paired farms
Country: United Kingdom
Status: Data released

Publications and outputs

Article (8)
Ecology : managing farming"s footprint on biodiversity
T.G. Benton
13/08/2009

Alpha and beta diversity of arthropods and plants in organically and conventionally managed wheat fields
Y. Clough; D. Gabriel; T. Tscharntke; D. Kleijn; T. Purtauf; A. Kruess I. Steffan-Dewenter; A. Holzschuh
13/08/2009

The spatial aggregation of organic farming in England and its underlying environmental correlates
Doreen Gabriel; Tim G. Benton; William E. Kunin; Helen Durham; Sigrid Stagl; Stephen J. Carver; Steven M. Sait; Robert C. Palmer
08/02/2013

Scale matters : the impact of organic farming on biodiversity at different spatial scales
Doreen Gabriel; Jenny A. Hodgson; William E. Kunin; Tim G. Benton; Ulrich Schmutz; Steven M. Sait
08/02/2013

Comparing organic farming and land sparing : optimizing yield and butterfly populations at a landscape scale
Jenny A. Hodgson; Doreen Gabriel; Chris D. Thomas; William E. Kunin; Tim G. Benton
08/02/2013

Food production vs. biodiversity : comparing organic and conventional agriculture
Doreen Gabriel; William E. Kunin; Steven M. Sait; Tim G. Benton
08/02/2013

The ‘neighbourhood effect’ : a multidisciplinary assessment of the case for farmer co-ordination in agri-environmental programmes
Lee-Ann Sutherland; William E. Kunin; Steven M. Sait; Unai Pascual; Dan Rigby; Ruben Sakrabani; Ulrich Schmutz; Doreen Gabriel; Laura Hathaway-Jenkins; Richard Godwin; Tim G. Benton; Sigrid Stagl
08/02/2013

Insect pollinated plants benefit from organic farming
D. Gabriel; T. Tscharntke
13/08/2009