Farming for ecosystem services: A case study of multifunctional agriculture in Iowa, U.S.A
John C. Tyndall
Agriculture in the United States faces major challenges for the 21st Century; it is at a pivotal stage in terms of integrating societal demands for sustainability and enhanced quality of life from agricultural lands. A growing understanding that farms play key roles in provisioning a wide range of ecosystem services is converging with a surge in public interest in the sustainability of farming and food systems. Farmers in the US Corn Belt are being solicited to manage for an increasingly complex and expanding suite of production and environmental benefits. However, managing landscapes for multiple objectives presents a major challenge and inherently increases management complexity. A critical challenge lies in defining an appropriate set of agriculture and environmental objectives for management across spatial scales. The goal of this research was to analyze the degree to which there is a capacity to manage agricultural landscapes for multiple ecosystem services with existing and emerging agricultural management practices. I addressed this goal by conducting a case study with stakeholders representing agricultural and environmental interests in Iowa, U.S.A., through a mixed methods approach utilizing the Delphi survey technique and in-person interviews with photo elicitation. This thesis presents the case study results regarding the relationship between ecosystem services and agricultural land management; identifies farm scale management practices that are most promising for achieving ecosystem service objectives across scales; and, additionally, presents a portfolio of landscape visualizations depicting scenarios of land management alternatives.