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Organic agriculture boosts biodiversity on farmlands
Date:6/26/2014

spiders and bees which were sampled as surrogates for the multitude of creatures living on farmland in different ways. In general, more species of plants and bees were found on organic than on non-organic fields, but not more species of spiders and earthworms.

If types of field boundaries such as grass verges or hedges were included in the comparison, the difference between organic and non-organic decreases. "Obviously, most species found in fields on organic farms tend to be concentrated in boundary areas on non-organic farms. There was little difference in the total number of species on the farms," explains Max Kainz, who headed the sub-project at TUM. The occurrence of rare or threatened species did not increase on organic farms, according to Kainz.

Even organic farms need to increase habitats

To sustain farmland biodiversity, which is currently under grave threat, researchers have identified complement organic farming methods with dedicated efforts to conserve habitats. To increase the number of habitats, the authors of the study recommend adding structural elements, such as woods, grass verges and fallow land, to farms. "Surprisingly, viewed across all regions, we did not find a higher number of natural habitats on organic farms than non-organic farms," reports Kainz.

"However, it was clear that habitat diversity is the key to species diversity," adds Prof. Hlsbergen. He continues: "The results of the study underline the importance of maintaining and expanding natural landscape features something that the EU's Greening Program has been trying to accomplish." If these additional habitats are different to the rest of the farm, for example hedges in grassland farms or herbaceous strips in arable farms, they have a huge impact on the biodiversity of a farm.


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Contact: Max Kainz
max.kainz@tum.de
49-816-171-3034
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Source:Eurekalert  

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