Journal article
Species diversity as a task for organic agriculture in Europe

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van Elsen, T.
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Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
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Different levels of biodiversity - species, biotopes and landscapes - can be differentiated and used for the assessment of the biotic environment of organic farms. Could the integration of species diversity into the cultivated land be a task for organic farming in the future? For hundreds of years agriculture supported the enrichment and the diversification of the vegetation in Central Europe. Nowadays many landscape elements are no more than relies of historical land use. Todays' intensive agriculture is considered to be the main agent responsible for the decline of plant species, What are the effects of sustainable ways of agriculture on biodiversity, especially on the diversity of arable field plants? Many investigations show positive effects of organic agriculture on the diversity of arable fields and grassland, too. A higher number of species and also more endangered 'red list' species are to be found in organic fields, Different effects of agricultural practices in organic fanning on the weed flora are discussed.
Today economic pressure leads to an improvement in mechanical weed control and undersowing, This shows that the aim of preserving, supporting and developing a diverse arable field flora cannot be reached automatically by converting to organic fanning: an integration with the guiding image of organic agriculture is needed, Measures to support the richness of species of arable field plants in organic fields are shown.
Many organic farmers are aware of correlations between an impoverished landscape and the appearance of pests and diseases and try to enrich the landscape with biotopes, Despite all the benefits of organic farming for nature the danger of separation arises in organic farming too: the separation of the landscape into 5% 'biotopes' where nature is allowed to develop and into 95% 'production area' being used intensively, One step further would be the development from separation to integration of biodiversity into the method of organic fanning as a whole - a way which corresponds with modern aims of the nature conservation movement. The 'integrated table of landscape quality aspects' developed during the work of the concerted action 'The Landscape and Nature Production Capacity of Organic/Sustainable Agriculture' could be useful for the assessment of organic farms under various aspects of biodiversity. It might help to change the farmers' viewpoint and make them assess their particular landscape values and their landscape components with new eyes. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Last updated on 2019-01-11 at 16:05