Perception of biodiversity in arable production systems in the Netherlands

E.S.C. Stilma, A.B. Smit, F.A. Geerling-Eiff, P.C. Struik, B.J. Vosman, H. Korevaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Until recently, arable production systems in the Netherlands were solely based on their production function, while ecological and societal functions were not or hardly taken into account. However, the Netherlands is a small and densely populated country that requires a well-planned management of the landscape if more functions are to be fulfilled. In an attempt to utilize the available space in a more efficient way, we designed Dutch arable production systems with a production, an ecological and a societal function, and tested systems differing in level of biodiversity in long-term field experiments. In this article special attention is paid to systems' societal function, which is attained when productive and biodiverse systems make the landscape more attractive than conventional ones. To explain differences in appreciation of arable production systems as elements of the Dutch landscape a study was carried out consisting of interviews combined with an appraisal of contrasting conventional and biodiverse systems and of field margins on the basis of colour photographs taken when the crops and the wild plants flowered. The pictures included fields with rye, barley, cereal-pea and cereal-pea-wild flower mixtures. In addition, pictures of other arable production systems in the Netherlands were used as a contrasting reference; these included forage maize, tulip fields and biodiverse field margins. The photographed systems were evaluated by a group of 30 interviewees, using the qualitative dialogue method. Each of the respondents was offered the possibility to express his feelings and to explain underlying thoughts when ranking and classifying the photographed systems. Most respondents appreciated the presence of wild flowers, but the farmers amongst them were hesitant as they feared yield loss. Barley was preferred to rye. Pea in mixtures was not liked much but was appreciated more in mixtures with rye than with barley. Also the reference systems provoked mixed feelings. Respondents engaged with nature or agriculture appreciated biodiversity in fields more than respondents not engaged with these sectors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-404
JournalNJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • landscape
  • preference
  • forage


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