Quest for higher yields is enemy of biodiversity on farms — both conventional and organic

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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

What kind of agriculture most benefits biodiversity? In recent years, few questions have animated conservationists and land-use scientists more than this one.

But this notion of a strong trade-off between biodiversity and agricultural productivity has been challenged, with some arguing that it is exaggerated, or does not exist at all.

This is not, strictly speaking, a question of whether there can be farmland with pretty good yields and fairly high levels of biodiversity. It is also not a question of picking either land sparing or land sharing. Rather, what is at stake is whether different forms of agricultural technology and management can provide for more wildlife at any given yield level.

The challenges in raising yields are not that different among farming systems, be they “conventional,” organic, or something else. Fertilizers and water have to be supplied in adequate amounts. Pests and weeds have to be eliminated.

We can make the best of the situation by locating agriculture in the places where the biodiversity losses are smallest and the yield gains are the greatest, and steer any expansion that does happen into the least sensitive areas. But by and large, when it comes to biodiversity and farming, we cannot have the cake and eat it.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Food Production and Wildlife on Farmland: Can We Have It All?

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