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Pest Control and Pollination CostBenefit Analysis of Hedgerow Restoration in a Simplified Agricultural Landscape


Field edge habitat in homogeneous agricultural landscapes can serve multiple purposes including enhanced biodiversity, water quality protection, and habitat for beneficial insects, such as native bees and natural enemies. Despite this ecosystem service value, adoption of field border plantings, such as hedgerows, on large-scale mono-cropped farms is minimal. With profits primarily driving agricultural production, a major challenge affecting hedgerow plantings is linked to establishment costs and the lack of clear economic benefits on the restoration investment. Our study documented that hedgerows are economically viable to growers by enhancing beneficial insects and natural pest control and pollination on farms. With pest control alone, our model shows that it would take 16 yr to break even from insecticide savings on the US$4,000 cost of a typical 300-m hedgerow field edge planting. By adding in pollination benefits by native bees, where honey bees ( Apis mellifera L.) may be limiting, the return time is reduced to 7 yr. USDA cost share programs allow for a quicker return on a hedgerow investment. Our study shows that over time, small-scale restoration can be profitable, helping to overcome the barrier of cost associated with field edge habitat restoration on farms.

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