ORGANIC FARMS ’ BEST FOR WILDLIFE ’

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ORGANIC FARMS ’ BEST FOR WILDLIFE ’

 user 2005-08-06 at 11:02:00 am Views: 80
  • #12187
    Organic farms ‘best for wildlife’
    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 intensive
    farming.”