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Keywords:

  • Agrobiodiversity economics;
  • biodiversity loss;
  • sustainable agricultural;
  • intensification;
  • technical change
  • Q12;
  • Q18;
  • Q24

Abstract

This paper explores the economic effects of biodiversity loss on marketable agricultural output for intensive agricultural systems, which require an increasing level of artificial capital inputs. A theoretical bio-economic model is used to derive a hypothesis about the effect of the state of biodiversity on the optimal crop output both in the longer run and in the transitional path towards the steady-state equilibrium. The hypothesised positive relationship between biodiversity stock and optimal levels of crop output is empirically tested using a stochastic production frontier approach, based on data from a panel of UK specialised cereal farms for the period 1989–2000. The results support the theoretical hypothesis. Increases in biodiversity can lead to a continual outward shift in the output frontier (although at a decreasing rate), controlling for the relevant set of labour and capital inputs. Agricultural transition towards biodiversity conservation may be consistent with an increase in crop output in already biodiversity-poor modern agricultural landscapes.