Skip to main content

Supporting policy with scientific evidence

We mobilise people and resources to create, curate, make sense of and use knowledge to inform policymaking across Europe.

Publication | 2022

Arthropod-related ecosystem services and disservices in smallholder farming in low and middle income countries

Smallholder farming (SHF) currently faces major challenges of sustainability to ensure food security while improving environmental conditions. Sound management of crop arthropods is central to SHF sustainability as these provide both services (e.g. pollination) and disservices (e.g. crop damages) with significant impacts on crop production. Understanding the synergies and trade-offs between arthropod services and disservices is key to achieve crop sustainability yet information about this important issue has never been compiled and analyzed for SHF. Here we review the recent literature with a specific focus on three key aspects of sustainable arthropod-management practices, namely 1) the systemic approach of the studies (crop vs. landscape scale), 2) the joint consideration of services and disservices provided by arthropods, and 3) farmers' involvement in the research. We found that most studies were performed at crop level (70.2%) without consideration of surrounding habitats. Moreover, services and disservices provided by arthropods were generally studied separately from each other (51.6% of articles) and were mainly focused on crop pests (34.6%). Farmers' knowledge was seldom considered and mainly concerned pests and pollinator-related services (20.5%). A majority of publications (73.8%) did not effectively involved farmers into the research process. Our review stresses the need to develop a more holistic view of arthropod management in SHF, including both the reduction of disservices and the enhancement of services. Furthermore, it would be necessary to promote transdisciplinary approaches to better articulate knowledge on arthropod ecological functions with farmers' needs.