The value of producing food, energy, and ecosystem services within an agro-ecosystem

John Porter*, Robert Costanza, Harpinder Sandhu, Lene Sigsgaard, Steve Wratten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Citations (Scopus)


Agricultural ecosystems produce food, fiber, and nonmarketed ecosystem services (ES). Agriculture also typically involves high negative external costs associated with, for example, fossil fuel use. We estimated, via fieldscale ecological monitoring and economic value-transfer methods, the market and nonmarket ES value of a combined food and energy (CFE) agro-ecosystem that simultaneously produces food, fodder, and bioenergy. Such novel CFE agro-ecosystems can provide a significantly increased net crop, energy, and nonmarketed ES compared with conventional agriculture, and require markedly less fossil-based inputs. Extrapolated to the European scale, the value of nonmarket ES from the CFE system exceeds current European farm subsidy payments. Such integrated food and bioenergy systems can thus provide environmental value for money for European Union farming and nonfarming communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-193
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


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