Martina Spörri1,2, Nadja El Benni1, Gabriele Mack1, Robert Finger2
Land use intensity determines the provision of multiple important ecosystem services of agriculture. In Switzerland, agricultural policy developments have aimed and still aim to extensify agricultural systems and especially grassland use. We here provide a spatial and temporal analysis of changes in grassland use intensity and discuss them in the context of agricultural policy developments to assess potential policy impacts. We use farm-level census data over a period of 19 years. Spatio-temporal patterns of in- and extensification are investigated visually and by global and local Moran’s I measures. We find that while average changes in grassland use intensity are small, there is a substantial increase in the heterogeneity of grassland use intensity strategies over time, as indicated by increasing interquantile ranges of yearly boxplots. Our results suggest that both in- and extensification are profitable strategies for farmers within the given policy framework. Furthermore, Moran’s I measures show the emergence of regional clusters of in- and extensification. These intensification clusters possibly amplify environmental problems. Our analysis therefore highlights the need for spatial assessments of agricultural policies, i.e. local adverse environmental effects of intensive grassland use should be targeted by spatially tailored policy measures.
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