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Landscape-scale modelling of agroforestry ecosystems services in Swiss orchards: a methodological approach



Agroforestry systems in temperate Europe are known to provide both, provisioning and regulating ecosystem services (ES). Yet, it is poorly understood how these systems affect ES provision at a landscape scale in contrast to agricultural practises.


This study aimed at developing a novel, spatially explicit model to assess and quantify bundles of provisioning and regulating ES provided by landscapes with and without agroforestry systems and to test the hypothesis that agroforestry landscapes provide higher amounts of regulating ES than landscapes dominated by monocropping.


Focussing on ES that are relevant for agroforestry and agricultural practices, we selected six provisioning and regulating ES—“biomass production”, “groundwater recharge”, “nutrient retention”, “soil preservation”, “carbon storage”, “habitat and gene pool protection”. Algorithms for quantifying these services were identified, tested, adapted, and applied in a traditional cherry orchard landscape in Switzerland, as a case study. Eight landscape test sites of 1 km × 1 km, four dominated by agroforestry and four dominated by agriculture, were mapped and used as baseline for the model.


We found that the provisioning ES, namely the annual biomass yield, was higher in landscape test sites with agriculture, while the regulating ES were better represented in landscape test sites with agroforestry. The differences were found to be statistically significant for the indicators annual biomass yield, groundwater recharge rate, nitrate leaching, annual carbon sequestration, flowering resources, and share of semi-natural habitats.


This approach provides an example for spatially explicit quantification of provisioning and regulating ES and is suitable for comparing different land use scenarii at landscape scale.

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The authors wish to express thanks to the farmers who allowed access to their land and to two anonymous reviewers for their comments that helped to improve the manuscript. We acknowledge funding through Grant 613520 from the European Commission (Project AGFORWARD, 7th Framework Program).

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Correspondence to Sonja Kay.

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Kay, S., Crous-Duran, J., García de Jalón, S. et al. Landscape-scale modelling of agroforestry ecosystems services in Swiss orchards: a methodological approach. Landscape Ecol 33, 1633–1644 (2018).

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  • Biodiversity
  • Cherry orchard
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Erosion
  • Landscape water balance
  • Lonsdorf model
  • Nitrate leaching