Organic Farming Boosts Biodiversity

Previously, organic farming was thought to only increase
biodiversity levels among wildlife surrounding the farm. So ‘the
fact that the message is similar all the way up the food chain is
new information,’ says agricultural scientist Martin Entz of the
University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.The increase in
biodiversity is likely a result of a long-held organic tradition
called mixed farming, which relies on varying arable and livestock
crops on the same land. The researchers also concluded that organic
farming aids biodiversity because fewer pesticides and inorganic
fertilizers are used, and because, where there are no crops,
wildlife-friendly management of habitats were adopted, such as not
weeding close to hedges.In England, birds such as lapwings and bats
benefited most from mixed farming. Lapwings, whose population
decline of 80% since the 1960s can be traced to current farming
practices, benefit from being able to nest on spring-sown crops but
raise their chicks on pasture. For bats, foraging activity was up
84% on organic farms. Critics of the studies say it’s impossible to
tell whether the increase in biodiversity is directly related to
those organic farmers who use more environmentally friendly
methods. It is also unclear whether switching to a few organic
practices by conventional farmers would lead to the same increases
in biodiversity.
Elizabeth Dwoskin

Go there >>
Farming Boosts Biodiversity

Related Links:

Related Links from the Utne

Comments? Story tips?
Write a letter to the editor

Like this? Want more?Subscribe to Utne

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.