Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Published in International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 11:2 (2013), pp 176–192. doi 10.1080/14735903.2012.726854


Copyright © 2013 Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


Farm management focused on maximizing biomass production results in biological simplification and ultimately a degraded production potential for the future. Despite the large and growing body of evidence pointing to the need to restore biodiversity to farm systems, incorporation of biodiversity and ecosystem services into local agricultural land use decision- making remains limited. The lack of planned and associated biodiversity may reduce resiliency of local managed ecosystems and add management costs; however, the trade-off for individual landowners of greater diversity is increased management complexity and uncertainty. To assist farmers in managing biodiversity and to encourage ecological thinking, we developed the Healthy Farm Index, a farm-scale tool that complements existing farm assessment tools by integrating multiple metrics and outputs suitable for applied decision-making and annual evaluation. In this article, we describe the impetus for the index development and the structure of the index and through a case study apply the index and discuss its varied outputs and applications.