Pollinators among chief beneficiaries of organic farming, study shows

Early mining bee (Andrena haemorrhoa) - image:Gail Hampshire
Early mining bee (Andrena haemorrhoa) - image:Gail Hampshire

Organic farms are home to around 30 per cent more wildlife species than conventional farms, a meta-analysis of nearly 100 studies by researchers form the University of Oxford and from Sweden and Switzerland has found.

"This result has been robust over the last 30 years of published studies and shows no sign of diminishing," they concluded.

They also noted: "The effect size varies with the organism group and crop studied, and is greater in landscapes with higher land-use intensity," while the effect was also smaller in orchards and vegetable fields than on arable land.

But pollinating insects showed an even more marked benefit from organic practices, with species numbers around 50 per cent higher.

Welcoming the study, Soil Association head of policy Emma Hockridge said: "There is a clear solution for pollinators with a known outcome – support organic farming and we can have 50 per cent more species of pollinators in our countryside.

"Yet in return for this, and many other benefits, UK organic farmers currently receive the lowest payments across the whole of the EU. We are urging the Government to redress this balance and ensure organic farmers in the UK are adequately supported in the new Common Agricultural Policy."


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