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Benefits to wildlife are clear

We recently hosted the South East Environmental Educators’ Forum in the education centre and, inevitably, it provoked and promoted much discussion about the food chain.

With the theme of “Food Production and Nature Gain”, delegates came from organisations involved with promoting the environment and outdoor education – subjects close to our hearts at Tuppenny Barn.

It was also an ideal opportunity for us to see what others are doing and to showcase the education centre as a possible venue for like-minded organisations to hire for their own training or events.

Plus the chance for delegates to sample a little of our produce for their lunch along with some products from the Goodwood Home Farm.

Here at Tuppenny Barn we are often asked about the benefits of organic farming and why people should eat organic produce.

The Soil Association recently reported that the biggest ever review into whether organic farming benefits wildlife had taken place.

And the findings were clear – organic farms have, on average, nearly a third more different species of wildlife than conventionally farmed land.

The researchers stated in the report that “organic methods could undoubtedly play a major role in halting the continued loss of diversity from industrialised nations”.

Researchers from the University of Oxford reviewed nearly 100 separate studies from around the world. They completed a meta-analysis – a rigorous review which means that findings can be summarised and put through statically robust testing.

Their review showed that the same thing has been repeatedly found over the past 30 years of research – organic farms have, on average, around a third more species of wildlife.

They listed the following key findings:

  • Organic farms have on average 34% more species than non-organic farms
  • The effect varied for different groups of wildlife. For pollinators such as bees, the difference was greatest with the number of species 50% higher on organic farms
  • The difference was greater for organic farms acting like ‘islands’, surrounded by a landscape of intensive farming and for organically grown cereals and mixed farming
  • These findings have been robust over the last 30 years of published studies and shows no signs of diminishing
  • This study didn’t look at abundance, only the number of species – though previous reviews have found wildlife is 50% more abundant on organic farms
  • More research is needed to look at how much more wildlife is found in organic farms in tropical and sub-tropical countries and for soil biodiversity
  • We are suffering dramatic losses of wildlife all over the world so to know that organic farms have on average a third more species shows just how great a difference you can make by supporting organic agriculture and buying organic food.
  • Our food systems are being threatened by the declines of bees and other pollinators – necessary for a third of the food that we eat.

This research shows there is a clear solution for pollinators with a known outcome – support organic farming and we can have 50% more species of pollinators in our countryside.