Multifunctional agriculture (MFA) has attracted increased attention from academics and policymakers in recent years. Academic researchers have utilised various approaches to assess and measure the multifunctionality of agriculture and rural landscapes. This paper outlines the nature of MFA and key supporting policies, before reviewing the applied research approaches, drawing primarily from the European Union and China where specific policies on MFA have been implemented to support rural development and promote sustainable rural communities. Four distinct types of valuation of modern MFA are recognised: economic, biophysical, socio-cultural, and holistic. Following a search of both the recent and older MFA literature, evaluations of the strengths and weaknesses of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods applications are provided using examples from a range of recent studies. The review illustrates the diversity of approaches to measure MFA. While noting that many studies operate at a landscape scale, the challenge remains that the lack of commonality in the research approaches applied means it is difficult to provide effective comparisons between studies or to compare findings. A future research agenda will need to emphasise the need for more consideration of the roles of MFA research to support decision-makers, especially policy makers, but also farmers who largely make decisions for individual farms but, if considered collectively, can transform production systems at a landscape scale.
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