Daily News Archive
August 8, 2005
Farms 'Best for Wildlife'
(Beyond Pesticides, August 8, 2005)Organic farms are
better for wildlife than those run conventionally, according to a new
study by scientists from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), and
the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology at Oxford University. The five-year
study of 180 farms in the United Kingdom finds that the organic farms
contain 85% more plant species, 33% more bats, 17% more spiders and
5% more birds than conventional farms, reports BBC
Funded by the government,
the study was the largest and most comprehensive study of organic farming
to date. The study
was published on August 3 in the Royal Society Journal Biology Letters.
of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers from organic is a fundamental
difference between systems," the study states.
The study also shows that organic farms often include smaller fields,
more grasslands and hedges that are thicker and on average 71% longer.
Dr. Lisa Norton, of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, explained
that: "Hedges are full of native, berry-producing shrubs, which
are great for insects and the birds and bats that feed on them."
Additionally, the fact the organic arable farms were more likely to
have livestock on them also made them richer habitats for wildlife.
Increased biodiversity was a "happy by-product" of sustainable
farming practices and farmers working with "natural processes"
to increase productivity, Dr. Norton added.
The study's lead author, British Trust for Ornithology habitat research
director Dr. Rob Fuller, told BBC News: "There were very large
benefits right across the species spectrum."
Dr. Fuller added in a press
release, “Organic farms clearly have positive biodiversity
effects for wild flowers. However, if they are to provide benefits on
the same scale for species that need more space, like birds, we either
need the farms to be larger or for neighbouring farms to be organic
too. Currently, less than 3% of English farmland is organic so there
is plenty of scope for an increase in area. Such an increase would help
to restore biodiversity within agricultural landscapes.”
more about what production processes and materials are allowed and not
allowed in certified organic food,
see the USDA
National Organic Program. If you cannot buy all organic and would
like to know which fruits and vegetables contain the highest and lowest
residues of pesticides, see EWG’s
“Dirty Dozen” report.