Farm biodiversity helps control pests without chemicals, boosts crop yields, study shows

butterflyandbees

Ecologists and biologists compared data of about 1,500 agricultural fields around the world, including corn fields in the American plains, oilseed rape fields in southern Sweden, coffee plantations in India, mango plantations in South Africa and cereal crops in the Alps. They analyzed two ecosystem services (i.e., processes regulated by nature that are beneficial and free for humans): the pollination service provided by wild insects and biological pest control service, which is the ability of an environment to use predatory arthropods present in the ecosystem to defend itself from harmful insects.

In heterogeneous landscapes where the variation of crops, hedges, trees and meadows is greater, wild pollinators and “beneficial” insects are more abundant and diversified. Not only do pollination and biological control increase, so does the crop yield. On the other hand, monocultures are the cause of roughly a third of the negative effects on pollination that result from landscape simplification (measured by loss of pollinator richness). This effect is even greater with the control of harmful insects, where loss of natural enemy richness represents 50 percent of the total consequences of landscape simplification.

Related article:  AquaBounty salmon backgrounder

“Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production,” explains Matteo Dainese, a biologist at Eurac Research and first author of the study. “For example, a farmer can depend less on pesticides to get rid of harmful insects if natural biological controls are increased through higher agricultural biodiversity.” The researchers recommend to protect environments whose health is maintained through biodiversity and to diversify crops and landscapes as much as possible.

“Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important,” underlines animal ecologist Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter from the Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology at the University of Würzburg, the initiator of the study within the EU project “Liberation.” “Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations.”

Original story: Study: Biodiversity improves crop production

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend