Does organic farming foster biodiversity?
The answer is yes, however, the number of habitats on the land plays an important role alongside the type and intensity of farming practices. These are the findings of an international study that looked at ten regions in Europe and two in Africa. The results has been published in Nature Communications
The study shows that even organic farms have to actively support biodiversity by, for example, conserving different habitats on their holdings.
An international team, including scientists from Technische Universität München (TUM), investigated the contribution of organic farming to supporting farmland biodiversity between 2010 and 2013. Researchers wanted to explore whether organic farms are home to more species than their conventional neighbors. The team used uniform methods across Europe to capture data and analyze it to establish the impact of farming methods and intensity and of landscape features on biodiversity.
“Organic farming is beneficial to the richness of plant and bee species. However, observed benefits concentrate on arable fields,” says TUM’s Prof. Kurt-Jürgen Hülsbergen. His Chair for Organic Agriculture and Agronomy analyzed 16 Bavarian dairy farms.
|Father Godfrey Nzamujo,
director of the Centre Songhai,
an organic farm, speaks
on the farm in Porto Novo.
(Charles Placide Tossou, AFP)
The study investigated farms in twelve regions with different production systems. In each region, farms were selected randomly, half of them certified organic for at least five years. In Switzerland, grassland-based cattle farms were studied and in Austria the study looked at arable farms. In Italy and Spain, researchers focused on farms with permanent crops such as wine and olives, and on small-scale subsistence farms in Uganda.
Organic farm in Benin, an example for Africa
The Songhai centre, in Benin’s capital now stretches over 24Ha and employs an army of workers and apprentices, who toil from sunrise to sunset growing fruit, vegetables and rice, as well as rearing fish, pigs, poultry. Songhai in tiny Benin has big plans for Africa. It already has similar operations in Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone and wants to set up shop in 13 more west and central African countries.
Nzamujo’s main aim is to help Africans increase yields through simple techniques, without using pesticides or fertilisers, and while cutting production costs and protecting the environment. The Nigeria-born priest, who was raised in California on the US west coast, said he was shocked by the appalling images of famine in Africa on television at the start of the 1980s.