Agricultural biodiversity is the backbone of agriculture, sustaining the ecosystem functions that underpin soil health and plant pollination, thereby helping ensure farmers can grow the food needed for growing populations around the world. Biodiversity and its ecosystem functions and services are deteriorating worldwide, with land use change and the resulting loss of habitat as well as climate change being two of the main reasons.
Biodiversity refers to the variety of flora and fauna, mostly referring to species diversity, but also to genetic diversity or habitat and ecosystem variety. A high biodiversity in an ecosystem is favorable, making it more resilient towards changing conditions, e.g. climate change.
Any kind of land management, like agriculture, forestry or urbanization, contributes to changes in biodiversity. Agricultural activities such as tillage, drainage, intercropping, crop rotation, grazing, fertilizing and crop protection use can have implications for wild species of flora and fauna, either directly or indirectly, by limiting plant and insect food sources or changing their habitats.
But agricultural activity can also enhance biodiversity. Innovation, including chemistry, biology, digital tools and seeds & traits technology allows farmers to grow more food on less land, reducing the pressure to convert more land to farming. This helps to preserve natural habitats and their wildlife, balancing high yields and flourishing biodiversity.
1 Chaudhary, A., & Brooks, T. (2018). Land Use Intensity-Specific Global Characterization Factors to Assess Product Biodiversity Footprints. Environmental science & technology, 52, 5094-5104. doi:10.1021/acs.est.7b05570
2 Dicks, L. V., & Ashpole, J. E. (2014). Farmland Conservation. Evidence for the effects of interventions in Northern and Western Europe. Cork: Pelagic Publishing. Retrieved from http://gbv.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=2038205