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Agricultural landscape structure and invasive species: The cost-effective level of crop field clustering

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JournalFood Security
DateAccepted/In press - 25 Nov 2015
DateE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jan 2016
DatePublished (current) - Feb 2016
Issue number1
Volume8
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)111-121
Early online date7/01/16
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Invasive pests in agricultural settings may have severe consequences for agricultural production, reducing yields and the value of crops. Once an invader population has established, controlling it tends to be very expensive. Therefore, when the potential impacts on production may be great, protection against initial establishment is often perceived to be the most cost-effective measure. Increasing attention in the ecological literature is being given to the possibility of curbing invasion processes by manipulating the field and cropping patterns in agricultural landscapes, so that they are less conducive to the spread of pests. However, the economic implications of such interventions have received far less attention. This paper uses a stochastic spatial model to identify the key processes that influence the vulnerability of a fragmented agricultural landscape to pests. We explore the interaction between the divergent forces of ecological invasion pressure and economic returns to scale, in relation to the level of clustering of crop fields. Results show that the most cost-effective distances between crop fields in terms of reducing food production impacts from an invasive pest are determined by a delicate balance of these two forces and depend on the values of the ecological and economic parameters involved. If agricultural productivity declines slowly with increasing distance between fields and the dispersal range of the potential invader is high, manipulation of cropping structure has the potential to protect against invasion outbreaks and the farmer can gain benefit overall from maintaining greater distances between fields of similar crops.

Bibliographical note

Date of Acceptance: 25/11/2015. © Springer 2016. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

    Research areas

  • Agricultural pests, Invasive species, Landscape fragmentation, Spatial agglomeration

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