An indicator-based method for quantifying farm multifunctionality

Peter Stubkjær Andersen, Henrik Vejre, Tommy Dalgaard, Jesper Brandt

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Production of food and fibres has traditionally been the main function of agriculture. In the last decades an increased focus on the importance of other functions has been discussed within the framework of agricultural and general land use multifunctionality. To a large extent farmers’ decisions and actions
determine which functions their farming practices support. The extent of the production function is straightforward to identify and quantify but problems persist in rating functions such as ecosystem maintenance, housing, and amenity values.
This paper presents a method to quantify and compare multifunctionality at farm level. Four main farm functions–production, residence, provision of wildlife habitats, and recreation–are selected to describe multifunctionality. In the quantification process indicators are identified to produce four aggregated
function scores based on farm characteristics and activities. The farm data that support the indicators is derived from an interview survey conducted in 2008.
The aggregated function scores vary with farm size as well as farm type; smaller, hobby-based farms in general score highest in the residence function whereas bigger, full-time farms score highest in the production, wildlife habitat, and recreation functions. This suggests that trade-offs between production development on the one side and environmental and recreational concerns on the other side may not be as high as expected. Farm of sizes 50–100 ha showed the highest multifunctionality–in this paper described as balance among functions–whilst smaller and bigger farms were biased towards mainly residence and production concerns, respectively.
Challenges in quantifying functions still persist, but the suggested approach offer a method by which functionality can be compared among farms and among functions. Knowledge on the functional focus at farm level may assist both farmers and spatial planners in decision making regarding future management
of agricultural landscapes.
TidsskriftEcological Indicators
Sider (fra-til)166-179
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2013


  • Landscape multifunctionality, functional indicators, indices, agriculture, quantification

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