Biodiversity in agriculture: Pros and Cons
The development of mankind is inseparably accompanied by the development of agriculture. People receive necessary food and raw materials. However, to ensure the sustainable existence of this industry, it is necessary to transform natural landscapes into artificial ones. There is a certain conflict between human interests and natural processes aimed at preserving ecosystems and biodiversity. The complete destruction of land destroys the habitat of living organisms, but the abandonment of agricultural land will lead to famine. Unfortunately, in modern agricultural farming, economic priorities often take precedence over environmental ones. Modern ecology solves the dilemma: what is more important – the preservation of humanity or nature? Therefore, the task is to reconcile human interests with the possibility of ecosystem development.
The solution may not be the reproduction of fundamental environmental conditions, but a certain balance, the formation of a landscape that is best adapted to current climatic conditions and which minimizes the negative impact of natural and anthropogenic processes. One of such ways is organic farming, where harmful synthetic substances, pesticides are replaced by several devices (crop rotation, organic fertilizers, biological products, mechanical tillage). Thus, the diversity of biota in agroecosystems is preserved. It creates a safe environment for human life and health, provides the population with food, medicine, raw materials for industry, supports the functioning of ecosystems, the cycle and purification of natural waters, soil conservation and climate stability. Mankind has recently been paying more and more attention to this issue. Back in 1992, Rio de Janeiro, the International Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted, and it is still the most pressing issue, which can be seen in more than half of the goals of sustainable development: ensuring the functioning of the environment – clean water, air, soil, adequate food supply, and the impact of pollution, climate change and others.
Until now, the diversity of living organisms in agricultural landscapes has been studied in separate groups, or only within the field, technology. But the study of biodiversity in man-made landscapes must be systematic, considering the main groups of living organisms (plants, insects, birds, and indicator species), ecosystems and edificatory, technologies for growing crops. Comparison and analysis of factors and biota will allow you to see the full picture and find a solution to reduce the burden on the environment.
Our research is aimed at studying the impact of agriculture on changes in the natural environment, the ratio of groups of living organisms (pests and their biological enemies). The research is carried out on certified organic fields (winter wheat, buckwheat, soybeans, etc.), forest shelter belts and their ecotones (zones between them). In this way, we learn about the direction of threats. Comparing the diversity of plants and insects reveals the dependence of the pests or entomophages development on the certain weed types. Comparison of insects and birds opens the possibility of attracting predators to destroy unwanted pests.
We strive to find solutions to replace pesticides with natural and safe remedies. Such studies are conducted over several years, considering crop rotations and comparing organic and conventional technology. The collection of insects is a good educational material, and it motivates students and scientists to learn more about the living world of the planet. The results are presented at seminars, field days, publications to inform farmers so that they can take care of the environment without losing yields and profits. What are the benefits and costs of biodiversity? It provides us with the fullness of life.
Author: Tetiana Grabovska