The use of ecosystem services (ES) in agricultural management is expanding; however, its integration in decision making processes is still challenging. This project was formulated to examine the ES approach and its usefulness with regard to management dilemmas. The Shikma region, north of the Negev Desert, was chosen as a case study. The management issue identified was the effect of various alternatives (minimum-tillage, no-tillage, straw-mulch and stubble-grazing) on the supply of ES. The expert-based ES assessments’ findings reveal that no-tillage has the potential to increase many agroecosystem services and be more profitable for the farmer and the public. However, trade-offs between different ES and among stakeholder groups make it difficult to reach an unequivocal conclusion. As we have found, the process of the study is as important as the results. Throughout the project, an effort was made to engage stakeholders and policy-makers and to define decision-making processes. The study suggests that the ES approach can be useful in expanding the scope of agricultural management beyond provisioning services and create collaborations among farmers, communities, national institutions and environmental organizations to advance conservation agriculture. The study provides guidelines for conducting a productive ES assessment process that will lead to enhanced awareness and implementation.
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