Organic Farming and Species Biodiversity
Research from Oxford University has determined that organic farms support at least 50% more species of pollinators, and 34% more species in general.
Pollinators include bees, bumble bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats and others.
The researchers calculated data from 184 observations drawn from 94 studies dating as far back as 1989. They utilized satellite images and calculated land use along with species diversity information.
Species “richness” or diversity was increased when the organic farms were surrounded by other farms. They also found that species diversity among organic farms were not decreasing over the past thirty years – as they have been decreasing among conventional farms.
The researchers did find differences in biodiversity among diversity according to the crop and the location. Biodiversity richness varied from 26% to 43% as a whole.
Greater species diversity was found for organic farms surrounded by more intense farming. Oxford’s Dr Lindsay Turnbull stated:
“This makes sense because the biodiversity benefits of each organic farm will be diluted in clusters of organic farms compared to an organic island providing rich habitats in a sea of pesticide-covered conventional fields. This effect was weakest in pollinators, which may be because pollinators are likely to visit neighboring farms and could be affected by pesticides there.”
Lead author Sean Tuck added:
“Our study has shown that organic farming, as an alternative to conventional farming, can yield significant long-term benefits for biodiversity.”
In other words, by eating more organic foods we are doing more than supporting better health for ourselves and family. We are also supporting the planet and our fellow species.
University of Oxford. Organic farms support more species.
Tuck, S. L., Winqvist, C., Mota, F., Ahnström, J., Turnbull, L. A., Bengtsson, J. (2014), Land-use intensity and the effects of organic farming on biodiversity: a hierarchical meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Ecology, 51: 746–755. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12219.