Archetypes of agri-environmental potential: a multi-scale typology for spatial stratification and upscaling in Europe

Beckmann, Michael; Didenko, Gregor; Bullock, James M. ORCID:; Cord, Anna F.; Paulus, Anne; Ziv, Guy; Václavík, Tomáš. 2022 Archetypes of agri-environmental potential: a multi-scale typology for spatial stratification and upscaling in Europe. Environmental Research Letters, 17 (11), 115008. 20, pp.

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Developing spatially-targeted policies for farmland in the European Union (EU) requires synthesized, spatially-explicit knowledge of agricultural systems and their environmental conditions. Such synthesis needs to be flexible and scalable in a way that allows the generalization of European landscapes and their agricultural potential into spatial units that are informative at any given resolution and extent. In recent years, typologies of agricultural lands have been substantially improved, however, agriculturally relevant aspects have yet to be included. We here provide a spatial classification approach for identifying archetypal patterns of agri-environmental potential in Europe based on machine-learning clustering of 17 variables on bioclimatic conditions, soil characteristics and topographical parameters. We improve existing typologies by (a) including more recent biophysical data (e.g. agriculturally-important soil parameters), (b) employing a fully data-driven approach that reduces subjectivity in identifying archetypal patterns, and (c) providing a scalable approach suitable both for the entire European continent as well as smaller geographical extents. We demonstrate the utility and scalability of our typology by comparing the archetypes with independent data on cropland cover and field size at the European scale and in three regional case studies in Germany, Czechia and Spain. The resulting archetypes can be used to support spatial stratification, upscaling and designation of more spatially-targeted agricultural policies, such as those in the context of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy post-2020.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1748-9326
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: archetypes, multi-scale, typology, land systems, self-organizing maps
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 11 Nov 2022 16:53 +0 (UTC)

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