Environmental measures can support agricultural biodiversity and wild bee populations. However, new research has revealed that the effectiveness of these strategies depends on a variety of factors.
The research team found that when evaluating the effectiveness of measures such as organic or conventional agriculture, the benefits to biodiversity should be assessed differently. The results show that it could be misleading to make broad comparisons of different conservation efforts.
For the survey, ten agricultural landscapes were studied. The landscapes contained three winter wheat fields, an organic field, a conventional field with flower strips, and a conventional field without flower strips. The abundance of wild bees was recorded for two years at each site.
After comparing the data, the experts concluded that conventional fields with flower strips could attract significantly more bees than organic fields. However, that does not sum up the whole story.
“When we looked closer, it didn’t give us the full picture because it didn’t take into account that flower strips only cover about five percent of conventional fields which overall have far fewer bees. than organic farmland,” explained Professor Teja Tscharntke, Department of Agroecology at the University of Göttingen.
“In short, organic farming, which generally has more wild plants than conventional fields, actually does better than conventional fields with flower strips at promoting bees,” added Dr. Péter Batáry from the Center for Biological Research. .
Cereal fields in organic farming yield only half of the harvest of conventional farming. When wheat yield loss is taken into account, ten hectares of organic farmland should be compared to five hectares of conventional farmland plus five hectares of flower strips. This would lead to 3.5 times more bees but the same yield. Therefore, organic farming would not be the best way to support wild bees.
This research demonstrates the importance of using different benchmarks and criteria when evaluating agri-environmental measures.
“It is only when we take into account the area as well as the yield and the type of agriculture that we can arrive at a balanced understanding of the ecological and economic effectiveness of environmental measures,” the authors of the study said. study.
The research was conducted by agroecologists from the University of Göttingen, Germany, and the Center for Ecological Research in Vácrátót, Hungary.
By Katherine Bucko, Terre.com Personal editor