Girl Planting seeds

In a Landscape Context, Organic Cropland Provides Refuge to Biodiversity and Is More Profitable than Chemical-Intensive Sites

A new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, confirms that organic agriculture provides refuge for biodiversity in an increasingly toxic, chemical-intensive landscape and that organic sites are more profitable than chemical-intensive agriculture despite slightly lower average crop yields (depending on crop type). Considering the impact of landscape context, the value of organic agriculture to biodiversity increased when surrounded by large chemical-intensive fields, but profitability slightly decreased. Small, organic farms near urban centers, for example, can be more profitable than large organic farms in remote areas. Researchers conducted a global meta-analysis considering the relationship between landscape context and biotic abundance, biotic richness, crop yield, and profitability. They used landscape metrics that “reflected composition (amount of land cover types), compositional heterogeneity (diversity of land cover types), and configurational heterogeneity (spatial arrangement of land cover types).” Datasets from 148 different studies spanned 60 crops on six continents across a range of farming practices and landscape types. Profitability data only related to US crops. Organic sites had 34% higher biodiversity than chemical-intensive crops. This should come as no surprise, as mono-cultural croplands have become increasingly large and increasingly toxic to organisms such as pollinators and birds in the last few decades. Organic agriculture uses a precautionary approach to toxic substances, thereby allowing biodiversity to thrive. For example, a recent study from Finland illustrated how organic animal farms can, in fact, improve wild bird abundance.  Read more....

 

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