Organic Farming and Ecosystems
Before the advent of farming, early man had a variegated diet – eating plants, animals, berries, seeds. Then humans discovered agriculture. But only certain plants and animals could be farmed, and so humans came to rely on an agricultural monoculture.
Humans then set up barriers to protect their crops and worked to eradicate animal pests that ate them. As humanity progressed, this practice only grew. Man invented better and more powerful ways to protect his crops, creating various toxic compounds and genetic modifications to increase yields, and destroying many native habitats in the process.
The result is that modern agriculture has become one of the biggest threats there is to biodiversity. In the quest for greater yields, modern farming practices are simply aimed at eradicating anything that hinders us from achieving production.
But organic farming helps to enhance the variety of life in an ecosystem, increasing biodiversity. That is because it is based on the idea that humans can farm in a way that cooperates with the ecosystem, rather than destroying it. More than 700 studies have confirmed that organic farming enhances biodiversity much more than conventional farming. Here are a few ways it does so.
- Reduces toxic substances.
Since organic farming does not use herbicides and pesticides, it not only eliminates the risk of exposure for humans but for animal life as well. Studies have shown that bats and other foraging animals are much more active on organic farms than on conventional farms.
- Healthier rivers and streams.
Organic fertilizers prevent algae buildup in rivers and streams, which can lead to so-called dead zones in bodies of water, areas where there is a lack of oxygen.
- An increase in insects and birds.
Organic farms rely more heavily on crop rotation and also have more areas that remain in their natural condition with more buffer zones. Because of this, organic farms also have greater numbers and kinds of birds, bees, beetles and spiders.
These various animal populations can help restore a more natural balance to the area under cultivation.
- Helps the soil.
The Earth’s topsoil contains more than 100,000 different kinds of microbes, bacteria, worms, and fungi. But because of farming and other uses, half of the Earth’s topsoil has been eliminated over the last 150 years.
But here again, organic farming is actually topsoil-friendly. It sustains a variety of plant and animal life, and improves the buildup and integrity of the topsoil. It increases the cycling of nutrients and enables the soil to hold more water, which combats erosion.
- Climate change.
Organic farming can also help with global warming. The more organic matter in soil, the more it absorbs carbon, reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted.