[permaculture] BBC NEWS | UK | Organic farms 'best for wildlife'
Lawrence F. London, Jr.
lfl at intrex.net
Thu Aug 4 12:00:34 EDT 2005
Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 August 2005, 07:57 GMT 08:57 UK
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Organic farms 'best for wildlife'
The organic farms tended to have smaller fields
Organic farms are better for wildlife than those run conventionally,
according to a study covering 180 farms from Cornwall to Cumbria.
The organic farms were found to contain 85% more plant species, 33% more
bats, 17% more spiders and 5% more birds.
Scientists - from Oxford University, the British Trust for Ornithology,
and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology - spent five years on the research.
Funded by the government, it was the largest ever survey of organic farming.
"The exclusion of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers from organic is a
fundamental difference between systems," the study says.
Other key differences found on the organic farms included smaller
fields, more grasslands and hedges that are taller, thicker and on
average 71% longer.
Dr Lisa Norton, of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said: "Hedges are
full of native, berry-producing shrubs, which are great for insects and
the birds and bats that feed on them."
A greater area of organically-managed land in the UK would help restore
the farmland wildlife that has been lost from our countryside
Soil Association policy manager Gundula Azeez
Increased biodiversity was a "happy by-product" of sustainable farming
practices and farmers working with "natural processes" to increase
productivity, she added.
The fact the organic arable farms were more likely to have livestock on
them also made them richer habitats for wildlife.
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."
The study had looked at a "very, very high" proportion of England's
organic arable farms, he said.
More organic farming would help "restore biodiversity within
agricultural landscapes", Dr Fuller added.
"Less than 3% of English farmland is organic so there is plenty of scope
for an increase in area."
Soil Association policy manager Gundula Azeez said: "A greater area of
organically-managed land in the UK would help restore the farmland
wildlife that has been lost from our countryside in recent decades with
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