On the verge of losing everything – Wild life farming can be the solution
This is a summary of recent research on the importance of bio-diversity, the preservation of the eco-system and its effect on human health and how an alarming percentage of the food we consume is dependent on the survival of the wild pollinators. The true value of functional biodiversity on the farm is often inadequately acknowledged or understood, while conventional intensification tends to disrupt beneficial functions of biodiversity. It becomes evident that using practices that are locally proven to benefit biodiversity, avoiding chemical use at all costs, supporting wild life farming and agriculture practiced under smallholder farmer-dominated landscapes, is currently the backbone of global food security in the developing world. As discussed in a recently published paper from Germany, organic farming enhances diversity in agroecosystems. A comparison of the proportions between insect pollinators versus non-insect pollinators to all plant species revealed that the relative number of insect pollinated species was higher in organic than in conventional fields and higher at the field edge than in the field centre, whereas the relative number of non-insect pollinated species was higher in conventional fields and in the field centre. The results show that insect pollinated plants benefit disproportionately from organic farming, which appeared to be related to higher pollinator densities in organic fields, whereas in the centres of conventional fields non-insect pollinated plants dominate presumably due to a limitation of pollinators.
Blinded by technology, our world has set out to build tiny flying robots to pollinate crops, instead of drastically reducing the use of chemical pesticides in conventional farming, minimizing its chemical footprint on the planet and balancing the eco-system by supporting bio-diversity. Bees have been dying at unprecedented rates because of a mysterious phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). Is this phenomenon so mysterious? Do you really think that this is unexplained? Scientists are working to replace bees. As stated, this might not be a perfect solution, but modern technology offers hope. http://www.businessinsider.com/harvard-robobees-closer-to-pollinating-crops-2014-6
Changing our way of thinking is critical to saving our planet. Read more…
With a growing global demand for food and fiber, a critical challenge is to integrate agricultural commodity production and biodiversity conservation. Local-scale measures that typically help to achieve such integration are the retention of patches of native vegetation, the maintenance of structural complexity in farmed areas, minimizing chemical use, and using practices that are locally proven to benefit biodiversity. At a landscape-scale, structural connectivity and landscape heterogeneity are likely to benefit biodiversity. Although intensive land use may be appropriate in some situations, in many cases, biodiversity conservation and commodity production can be successfully integrated.
Original Research Article: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123847195003312
Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
Authors: Joern Fischer, Claire Brittain, Alexandra-Maria Klein
Global food security, biodiversity conservation and the future of agricultural intensification
Under the current scenario of rapid human population increase, achieving efficient and productive agricultural land use while conserving biodiversity is a global challenge. There is an ongoing debate whether land for nature and for production should be segregated (land sparing) or integrated on the same land (land sharing, wildlife-friendly farming). While recent studies argue for agricultural intensification in a land sparing approach, we suggest here that it fails to account for real-world complexity. We argue that agriculture practiced under smallholder farmer-dominated landscapes and not large-scale farming, is currently the backbone of global food security in the developing world. Furthermore, contemporary food usage is inefficient with one third wasted and a further third used inefficiently to feed livestock and that conventional intensification causes often overlooked environmental costs. A major argument for wildlife friendly farming and agroecological intensification is that crucial ecosystem services are provided by “planned” and “associated” biodiversity, whereas the land sparing concept implies that biodiversity in agroecosystems is functionally negligible. However, loss of biological control can result in dramatic increases of pest densities, pollinator services affect a third of global human food supply, and inappropriate agricultural management can lead to environmental degradation. Hence, the true value of functional biodiversity on the farm is often inadequately acknowledged or understood, while conventional intensification tends to disrupt beneficial functions of biodiversity. In conclusion, linking agricultural intensification with biodiversity conservation and hunger reduction requires well-informed regional and targeted solutions, something which the land sparing vs sharing debate has failed to achieve so far.
► The land sparing vs sharing dichotomy fails to account for real-world complexity.
► Small-, but not large-scale farming is the backbone of food security for the poor.
► Reducing food usage by waste, biofuels and livestock improves food security.
► Intensification with agrochemicals can cause huge environmental costs.
► On-farm functional biodiversity provides many services, e.g. pollination and biocontrol.
Original Research Article: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320712000821
Authors: Teja Tscharntke, Yann Clough, Thomas C. Wanger, Louise Jackson, Iris Motzke, Ivette Perfecto, John Vandermeer, Anthony Whitbread
Insect pollinated plants benefit from organic farming
Organic farming is predicted to enhance diversity in agroecosystems. This study addresses the question of whether the often observed positive effect of organic farming on arable weed and pollinator diversity results in a significant shift in arable weed community structure towards a higher proportion of insect pollinated species in organic crop fields. To examine whether plant community patterns were consistent with this hypothesis, arable weed communities were compared with respect to the type of pollination (i.e. insect pollination versus non-insect pollination) in the edges and centres of 20 organic and 20 conventional wheat fields. Plant species numbers of both pollination types were much higher in organic than in conventional fields and higher in the field edge than in the field centre. A comparison of the proportions of both pollination types to all plant species revealed that the relative number of insect pollinated species was higher in organic than in conventional fields and higher at the field edge than in the field centre, whereas the relative number of non-insect pollinated species was higher in conventional fields and in the field centre. Our results show that insect pollinated plants benefit disproportionately from organic farming, which appeared to be related to higher pollinator densities in organic fields, whereas in the centres of conventional fields non-insect pollinated plants dominate presumably due to a limitation of pollinators. Hence, disruption of plant-pollinator interactions due to agricultural intensification may cause important shifts in plant community structure.
Original Research Article: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167880906001484
Agroecology, University of Göttingen, Waldweg 26, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
Authors: Doreen Gabriel, Teja Tscharntke
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