Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Organic Farming Sustains Increased Biodiversity
Biodiversity is one of the key factors that affect the productivity and sustainability of an ecosystem. A high variety of species typically indicates a higher array of functions within the environment. Due to increased use in insecticides and fossil fuels in the past decades, the many links within our richly diverse biosphere have been negatively affected. Ecologists estimate that as many as 30% of all species may be lost over the next four decades. Therefore, many aim to find ways to prevent species extinction, increase species evolution, and fill in the gaps in the ecological web that have already been created. A recent study done at Oxford University has shown that organic farming has been established as a stable solution to biodiversity threats. Their study showed that species richness on organic farms is on average 34% higher than on conventional farms.
Organic agriculture is a system of farming that either rejects or strictly limits the use of insecticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilisers, whereas conventional farming heavily relies on these extermination methods. Organic agriculture relies on complex crop rotations to deal with weed and pest issues and relies on organic compost for fertilisation. By using more natural methods of production, not only does the crop and land benefit, all the biodiversity within the ecosystem does as well. The study showed that among the different categories of life, plants and pollinators (such as the current dwindling bee populations) showed the greatest increase in species richness compared to conventional farms.
An abundance of organic food also goes a long way for the humans that are consuming it. Organic farming has little to no pesticide use, therefore these humans are are not being exposed to the chemicals that are put on their food to kill other species. Biodiversity is also interwoven with medical biology. Biologists often study the mechanisms and proteins from other organisms' genome, therefore the richer the diversity, the more opportunities for scientific and medical advancement. These examples are few of the many reasons why biodiversity is important.
Since all organisms, including humans, are connected within earth's biosphere, an increase in biodiversity not only benefits its local ecosystem, it affects us all. The more species extinction, the more vulnerable the earth and its organisms become. Organic farming is one method to help boost our environment and create more species diversity in the battle against insecticide use and global warming.
Posted by: Nicole Boisvert (1)