Biodiversity and Organic Farms

Greater bio-diversity on organic farms

New research just published by ecologists at Trinity College Dublin, has shown that organic farming benefits insect biodiversity, insect-flower interactions and pollination of wild plants.

The study by PhD student Eileen Power and principal investigator Dr Jane Stout, Senior Lecturer at the School of Natural Sciences at TCD, was published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

The TCD research demonstrated that insect-flower interaction networks on organic farms were larger, and that there were more flowers on organic farms which attracted a higher number of bees, compared with non-organic and conventional counterparts.

According to the National Biodiversity Data Centre in 2010 the goods and services provided by biodiversity are estimated to contribute a minimum of €2.6 billion per annum to the Irish economy[1]. Agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism depend to a large extent on this natural capital and therefore it is essential to preserve and enhance it.

Pat Mulrooney one of the farmers whose organic dairy farm was used for the research was delighted with the results “It verifies my own personal observations over the years as an organic farmer. We began exploring organic farming in the mid 1970’s and obtained organic certification with IOFGA in 1987. I have noticed a cumulative build up of species diversity on the farm and now this research confirms that we made the right choice to farm organically. We now know that the ecosystem on our farm is healthier and additional research on organic milk is also showing that organic milk is healthier for humans than non-organic milk so it is a win-win scenario. We need to have more organic farmers in Ireland producing food which sustains all species”.

[1] Ireland’s biodiversity in 2010 – State of Knowledge by the National Biodiversity Data Centre