Re-Imagining Agricultural Landscapes: Design Strategies to Improve Ecosystem Services within Non-Crop Habitats

Livingston, Jenna
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University of Guelph

Ecosystem services, such as soil quality and nutrient cycling, water regulation, pest management, and pollination, are integral to sustaining the health and resilience of agroecosystems. Best management practices (BMPs) in agriculture can enhance ecosystem services without decreasing production; yet, implementing and managing BMPs is challenging for many farmers. This research aims to identify non-crop habitats in agricultural landscapes as valuable resources for ecosystem services and explores how landscape architects could support BMP adoption. After a literature review, a case study of a working farm informed non-crop habitat design opportunities; based on these opportunities, infographics were developed as a communication tool. Results indicate that landscape architects can positively contribute to sustainable and resilient food systems. Restoring non-crop habitats is a land management decision and production practice that, along with crop habitat BMPs, can be used to protect agricultural landscapes from soil degradation, biodiversity loss, habitat fragmentation, and risk to water quality.

landscape, ecosystem services, best management practices, nature based solutions, non-crop habitat, design