Scientific workshop on Organic pigproduction, June 12th and 13th, 2013, Denmark. Read more
"Organic farming systems as a driver for change", August 21-23, 2013, Denmark. Read more
A ½ day seminar: Agro-biodiversity and Ecosystem services
BIODIVERSITY BENEFITS ORGANIC AGRICULTURE AND ORGANIC AGRICULTURE BENEFITS BIODIVERSITY– TRUE OR FALSE?
Together with the Embassy of Denmark in Washington DC, USA, ICROFS invited a group of researchers, policy makers, and research administrators to a ½ day seminar at the Embassy of Denmark in Washington DC on 16th December 2010.
The aim was to solicit knowledge and opinions regarding the potential and relevance of organic agriculture practices for providing and benefitting from high quality eco-systems services.
The loss of biodiversity and the consequences for ecosystems services have accelerated during the last decades - approximately 60% of the ecosystem services examined in the Millennium Ecosystems Assessment are being degraded or used unsustainably (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment – Synthesis, 2005).
Agriculture and food production depends on biodiversity and ecosystems services and at the same time impacts positively or negatively the natural capital. FAO has stated that ‘Ecosystem services sustain agricultural productivity and resilience’ (Plant Production and Protection Division, ww.fao.org/ag/AGP) and advocates production intensification through ecosystem management.
Intensification of agriculture through improved use of agro-ecological methods builds on in-depth understanding of biological and technical processes at various levels of scale and profits from ecological, bio-chemical and molecular research methods and from farmers’ experience. Is it a valid hypothesis that higher productivity, stability of yields, resilience and sustainability (adaptability) may be achieved by means of appropriate ‘eco-functional intensification’ – such as increased diversity in terms of genetic variation in crops, crop mixtures, inter-cropping, agro-forestry and un-cultivated areas (habitats) at field, farm and landscape levels?
The principles of organic agriculture express the core idea that agriculture and farming should emulate and sustain living ecological systems and cycles and sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal and planet and be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment (EU and IFOAM Principles of Organic Agriculture).
This should be achieved mainly by the appropriate ‘design and management of biological processes based on ecological systems using natural resources, which are internal to the system.’
Higher levels of biodiversity in organic agriculture
Research has shown higher levels of biodiversity in organic agriculture than in conventional systems at field, farm and landscape levels. This is one of the reasons for support to organic agriculture among consumers and politicians. However, it has been questioned whether the biodiversity in present forms of organic agriculture is sufficient to make a significant contribution to nature preservation and to securing ecosystem services. This question is linked with the dilemma between segregation vs. integration of agriculture and high value nature areas.
It is pertinent to ask:
to what extent are these agro-ecological principles being utilized on most organic farms today?
How much does organic farming benefit from conscious ‘design and management of biological processes based on ecological systems’?
Is lack of knowledge or simple pragmatism a barrier for further implementation of agro-ecological methods?
We find that it is highly relevant to engage a number of organizations and researchers in this discussion of the relation between organic practices and eco-system services and biodiversity.