Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Agricultural biodiversity

13 May 2019

Agriculture is one of the leading drivers behind the loss of species and ecosystems, warns the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). An estimated one million animal and plant species (one in eight) are threatened with extinction. Species losses are happening tens or hundreds of times more rapidly today than over the last 10 million years, with the rate accelerating.

Image: Charles Knowles, Eastern Washington wheat harvest, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
16 April 2019

This paper reviews studies where changes in both productivity and species richness have been tracked at the same location, following changes in the intensity of land use. On average, intensifying land use leads to a 20% gain in output and a 9% decrease in species richness, but there is considerable variation between different contexts.

Image: MichelAelbrecht, Bee nature lavender, Pixabay, Pixabay licence
1 April 2019

This paper shows that pollinator services in agricultural landscapes that have been highly altered from their natural state are lower than would be predicted from a simple count of pollinator species. The paper bases its estimates on a study of the evolutionary relationships between pollinators and extensive surveys of pollinators.

Image: Pixnio, Bee tree flower, Public domain
12 March 2019

This study surveys declining pollinator populations and the threat to agricultural production this poses at a time when (the paper argues) higher yields and farm efficiencies are needed. It outlines how woody habitats such as trees and hedgerows can be used on agricultural land to aid conservation of pollinators.

4 March 2019

This book discusses resilience in agriculture, using economic, ecological and sociological perspectives. Topics covered include biodiversity, ecosystem services, land sparing versus land sharing, and sustainable intensification.

4 March 2019

This report from the FAO reviews the state of ‘biodiversity for food and agriculture’, i.e. any biodiversity that contributes in some way to food production. It finds that 26% of livestock breeds are at risk of extinction. Crop diversity is declining, with only 9 crop species accounting for 66% of crop production. One third of fish stocks are overfished, and a further 60% are being fished at their maximum sustainable capacity.

Image: PublicDomainImages, Soil tilling farmer, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence
26 February 2019

This paper uses long-term studies from Europe and China to examine the effects on soil quality of organic matter addition, no-till practices, crop rotation and organic farming. It finds that yields are lower under no-till and organic practices, but that these practices are associated with higher soil organic matter.

Image: Julie Edgley, Colourful Maize, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
29 January 2019

This paper presents the Open Source Seed (OSS) Licence, a new legal instrument (inspired by open source software) designed to protect access to plant germplasm as a commons accessible to everyone. The legally enforceable licence is being trialled with varieties of tomato, wheat and maize.

Image: Farm Watch, Dairy Cow, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
29 January 2019

FCRN member Marie Trydeman Knudsen has co-authored this life cycle assessment of organic versus conventional milk production in Western Europe, which highlights the importance of including soil carbon changes, ecotoxicity and biodiversity in environmental assessments.

10 December 2018

The Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University has launched a new website on agroecology, containing information about related projects, publications, policy statements and videos.

12 November 2018

The Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research has produced an online compendium of methods for assessing agrobiodiversity, including diversity of crops, livestock, pollinators and harvested wild plants.

6 November 2018

This book, by David Lindenmayer, Damian Michael, Mason Crane, Daniel Florance and Emma Burns, describes best practice approaches for restoring Australian farm woodlands for birds, mammals and reptiles.

6 November 2018

This report by the RISE Foundation (Rural Investment Support for Europe), co-authored by FCRN member Elisabet Nadeu, outlines the environmental and health impacts of livestock production and consumption in the EU. The report suggests that there is a “safe operating space” for livestock production, defined at the lower bound by the provision of nutrition to humans and the maintenance of permanent pasture habitats, and defined at the upper boundary by climate impacts and nitrogen and phosphorus emissions.

6 November 2018

WWF’s 2018 Living Planet Report finds that population sizes of thousands of vertebrate species have declined by 60%, on average, between 1970 and 2014, land degradation seriously impacts 75% of terrestrial ecosystems, and current species extinction rates are 100 to 1000 times higher than the background rate. The report attributes these impacts to rising demand for land, water and energy, and explores the impacts of agriculture, fisheries and deforestation.

Image: Tony Atkin, Colourful Hedgerows, Geograph, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
22 October 2018

A paper reviews how “working lands” such as farms, forests and rangelands can be managed to protect biodiversity and ecosystems services. The paper points out that the management of working lands can be complementary to using protected areas to conserve biodiversity.

Image: PollyDot, Honey bees beehive, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
2 October 2018

The common weed killer glyphosate targets an enzyme only found in plants and microorganisms. However, a new paper finds that glyphosate can harm honey bees even though they lack the targeted enzyme. Glyphosate does this by changing the balance of microorganisms (some of which contain the relevant enzyme) found in the bees’ guts, making the bees more susceptible to infections.

Image: Dario Sanches, Todirostrum cinereum, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
2 October 2018

Birds catch insects less frequently in silvopastures (grazing land with substantial tree cover) than in forest fragments, according to a study in the Colombian Andes. This suggests that silvopasture provides relatively lower quality habitat for the bird species studied. However, the paper proposes some measures to improve the quality of silvopastures as habitats for birds, including encouraging certain tree species and forming particular microhabitats, such as vine tangles and hanging dead leaves.

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