How does organic benefit biodiversity?

Biodiversity is, in short, the abundance and variety of animals and plants. In the Netherlands, for example, only 15% of its former biodiversity is left. The Living Planet Index, a measure for the vitality of global biodiversity, has decreased 30% since 1970. The FAO considers the loss of biodiversity one of the biggest threats of our time for mankind, because it's indicative of ecosystems collapse. The Red IUCN List is growing while the variety in food crops is diminishing. Less resilience and a bigger risk of food crises is the result. Science show that organic agriculture has a consistent positive effect on biodiversity.

Organic provides ...

More soil life

Organic soils contain more micro-organisme and earth worms. These are very important for fertility and soil structure. 

More flowers and plants

In organic farms you will find more wild plants and more plant species.

More fauna

In organic farms there are more beatles, bees, spiders and butterflies, and more birds.

More cultivated species

Agro-biodiversity is bigger in organic farms as a result of crop rotation, intercropping and mixed cultivation.

Meer landscape variation

Organic farms are better at showing seasonal, historical and special characteristics of a region. The number of biotopes is higher at organic farms.

In organic farms there are more beatles, bees, spiders and butterflies, and more birds.

Scientific evidence

Soil life

Micro-organisms and earth worms play a leading role in keeping soils fertile. Organic soils usually have more of them, as a result of using natural fertilizers with organic material, and crop rotation. The micro-organisms are also more diverse and more active in organic soils.
Source: Haveman & Stortelder 2006

Insects and other invertebrae 

On organic farms 1.6 times more beatles, 3 times more butterlies and 1 to 5 times more spiders are found than in conventional agriculture. Many of them are natural predators for pest insects like lice. They also contribute to pollination are an important food source for birds. Reasons are clear: no chemical pesticides, more organic fertilizer, crop rotation, more landscape elements that provide habitat such as hedges, more nature.  
Source: Tack, 2006

Plants

In organic farming we find 5 x more wild plants and 57% meer plant species than in conventional farming. The non-agricultural plants are a major food source for invertebrae and birds. They also prevent food crops from being eaten by plague animals.
Source: Tack, 2006 and Haveman & Stortelder 2006
 

Crop rotation and the use of plants with fertilisation properties or so-called green manure (i.e. leguminosa like clover) means there is a higher diversity of crops as well.

Birds

Birds greatly profit from organic farming methods. The occur in larger numbers and breed more successfully. Causes are: smaller cultivation area's, more landscape elements like hedges, more food sources as a result of not using pesticides and herbicides, and mixed cultivation. At the edges of the fields 25% to 44% more birds are seen, and a 100% more birds who nest on the ground. The positive effect is greater than the effect of fallow land! 
Source: Haveman & Stortelder, 2006, Tack, 2006, Stolze e.a., 2000

Landscape 

Organic farming also benefits the quality of the landscape with more variety and semi-natural landscape elements such as hedgerows and puddles. Organic farms are more in tune with the characteristic spatial and temporal relations in a region.
Source: Haveman & Stortelder 2006; Hendriks e.a., 2000; Stobbelaar en Hendriks, 2001.

No neonicotinoids!

Agro-biodiversity as the foundation of our food supply

The foundation of our food supply is very narrow:

  • There are 265,000 planten species on earth, 7,000 of which serve as food crops. Only 80 crops are eaten in major quantities. Wheat, rice, sugar and corn provide 63% of all vegetable food intake by people.
  • There are 4,763 species of mammals and 9,946 species of birds. Only 40 of these are grown for food. Just 14 species supply 90%  of all meat consumption.

Dependance on only a few species can easily lead to food crises when new plagues or diseases occur. For stability and resilience, diversity is needed.
Source: Tack, 2006

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