Biodiversity – making it work on a modern farm
Global
Agriculture
Global
Agriculture

Biodiversity

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.

 

Biodiversity and AgBalance

BASF has developed its own tool to assess the positive impact on biodiversity measures taken by a farm to improve its biodiversity performance. Our tool combines two approaches:

1. In order to assess the biodiversity footprint in LCA, a characterization model (Chaudhary & Brooks, 2018)1 was used, which predicts the global potential species loss of 5 taxa per unit of area of 804 ecoregions, for occupation and transformation of 5 land use types and three levels of intensity.

2. The University of Cambridge has summarized evidence from scientific literature about the effects of conservation interventions (Dicks & Ashpole, 2014)2 to support decisions on how to maintain and restore global biodiversity. Furthermore, an assessment of effectiveness and certainty of these interventions is available in the Conservation Evidence free-access database.

Next to different farming practices (e.g. no-till), also the application of fertilizers and plant protection products may show an impact on biodiversity.

Integration of biodiversity assessment into LCA in agriculture - the AgBalance approach

Conference Paper - LCA Food 2020

Environmental Impact Assessment

Technical documentation

 

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