Agricultural landscapes safeguard ecosystem services (ES) and biodiversity upon which human well-being depends. However, only a fraction of these services are generally considered in land management decisions, resulting in trade-offs and societally inefficient solutions. The TEEB Study (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) spearheaded the development of assessments of the economic significance of ES and biodiversity. Several national TEEB follow-ups have compiled case studies and derived targeted policy advice. By synthesizing insights from “Natural Capital Germany – TEEB DE” and focusing on rural areas, the objectives of this study were (i) to explore causes of the continued decline of ES and biodiversity, (ii) to introduce case studies exemplifying the economic significance of ES and biodiversity in land use decisions, and (iii) to synthesize key recommendations for policy, planning and management. Our findings indicate that the continued decrease of ES and biodiversity in Germany can be explained by implementation deficits within a well-established nature conservation system. Three case studies on grassland protection, the establishment of riverbank buffer zones and water-sensitive farming illustrate that an economic perspective can convey recognition of the values of ES and biodiversity. We conclude with suggestions for enhanced consideration, improved conservation and sustainable use of ES and biodiversity.