Posts Tagged ‘Biodiversity’

Biodiversity.

January 24, 2009

 

In many areas agriculture is dominating the landscape. The farmer is the manager of biodiversity.

Is he aware of this? Probably seldom. Anyhow biodiversity will have to give way for practical issues which feel more pressing: create wide open fields for the big machines and utilize as much area as possible. Is this always rational?  There is also a culture that the farm shall be clean and controled, also the field borders.

However, there are coming more and more reports about field edges etc being very important for the life in the landscape, from insects to birds. But what is the use of that?

Pollination is an obvious “ecosystem service” important for some crops.

Beetles move pretty far from a field edge and contribute to the biological balance in the fields.

Birds are of obvious importance.

Above all – biodiversity is a kind of insurance and a resource for the future.

We should not forget the landscape, the scenery. And maybe consider hunting aspects.

 

Agriculture can do a lot with little costs. Field edges can be at least saved in a better way and they can easily be helped a little with some seeds etc. Precision farming and big machines can be used for preserving biodiversity.

 

Be innovative – the field is free.

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The whole and the details.

January 8, 2009

 

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency is arranging a workshop next week in order to squeeze out ideas for further reduction of emissions to The Baltic. That is needed, for large commitments have been made in Baltic Sea Action Plan.

 

It is about N and P. But I hope that the topic can be widened to include the integrated function of the soil. And that is almost necessary, since we have gone very far in correcting malpractices and errors. Few simple solutions remain. But there are possibilities to improve the functioning of the soil. Better structure, better stability and surface protection will help reducing P outflow. The very work in this direction will also reduce N outflow and greenhouse gases. Biodiversity and yield capacity will increase. Cover crops are more than just N catch crops.

Have a look at my post of 30 Dec.

 

In general, segmentation and specialization is a problem, both concerning authorities and research. Different units have there own segments. Integration is difficult. The economists should perhaps integrate, but also they have got specialized tasks.

 

A flower to Greppa Näringen (Focus on Nutrients) who has dared to integrate many aspects in “The soil fertility module”.

Cover crops – important also for biodiversity.

December 30, 2008

 

Compared with a bare, plowed soil, cover crops favour life both on the soil and in the soil. This is an important addition to what was mentioned yesterday.

Biogas in Germany – a development with landscape consequences.

December 18, 2008

The development of biogas in Germany has a large support from the society. The process is so successful that it has changed the landscape in some regions. The former varying landscape with a diversity of crops has been changed to a landscape of maize.

Is that a development we want?

Swedish conditions for biogas are different, but it is important that wellmeaning support schemes don’t give unforeseen effects.

It has to be remembered that manure, which is seen as a substrate for biogas, has much lower energy value than the crops themselves

From cotton to diversity

October 13, 2008

My post of yesterday ended with cotton. Question mark concerning large biocide use at least in some areas. Organic cotton a solution? Some net search.

Organic cotton production was (2003) 0,03% of total cotton. But there is much talk about it, at least in advertisements. Are there other ways to improve environment?  Found a publication

 ”Farmscaping to enhance biological control”

 http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/farmscaping.pdf

 

This concerns USA and is published in 2000. It seems to contain interesting facts and ideas.It concerns two goals: to assure that pesticides are used as efficiently and goaloriented as possible and to promote diversity at several levels. There are many details and the topic is not easy. But generally it seems that diversity in the soil (harvest residues, organic matter) and diversity at field edges is a good start.

 

A one meter wide strip around the edges of a 10 hectare field means 1-1,5% of the area. This can be used in many ways and the income loss is almost negligible.

 

A reminder of the small summary of agricultura and diversity www.greengard.se/biodivers.htm

“Our intensive agriculture is a threat to biodiversity”

October 9, 2008

Yes, maybe so. The fields grow bigger, specialization seems to increase.

The farmer is supposed to develop his economical enterprise, to react on price signals. The society seems to demand diversity. But diversity has neither price nor costs (except in special cases). However, in general terms we know of benefits as pollination, resilience towards pests, erosion control etc. In at least some cases improvements in biodiversity can be achieved at low costs, if any.

In modern agriculture there are many developments which could be used to favour diversity: positioning technology, sensor technology, new varieties and crops, minimum tillage, cover crops.

But the farmer needs information: how and why. This is a great challenge especially for research and advice.

The economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity.

October 6, 2008

A study initiated by the EU Commission is the topic of a seminar in Stockholm on 24 Oct. An interim report will be presented and future work discussed..

 

It is evident that biodiversity attracts more and more attention, and of course this is appropriate when the human society continuously expands. What is the economic consequences and how should they be evaluated.?

 

Now, of course, it is natural for such a study to concentrate on “big measures”. What can EU do? What can nations do?

I would like to draw attention to “what can farmers do”. I am convinced that if the biodiversity issue is discussed with farmers they can be motivated to improve the biodiversity of the agricultural landscape. For a first step no payment or rules are needed, but a good synthesis of available knowledge of effects and consequences.

A short summary of some recent work in the field : www.greengard.se/biodivers.htm

Biodiversity – from fighting Nature to work with it.

October 1, 2008

 

The farmers have for centuries fought against biodiversity. Against bushes, against weeds. A true story: The young progressive farmer G told proudly his neighbour B about a row of trees he had planted to enrich the landscape and environment. And B grunted: Hmm, I have fought bushes all my life.

 

It is time to rethink. Nature is threatened more than ever. The fields keep growing in size. Irregular patches disappear. The more homogenous environment reduces life conditions for birds, insects and other animals.

 

In fact, today field edges with bushes and irregularities should be a greater reason for pride than a “clean and proper” and completely controled landscape.

 

It is difficult to set a price on Diversity. But there are gains in several respects. One is pollination. And one thing is certain: a landscape poor in diversity is vulnerable in different ways.