Environmental Aspects and Biodiversity

Miracle Farm Blueprint

Organic Farming Manual

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The environmental argument holds that conventional agriculture is rapidly depleting natural resources, particularly fossil fuels and freshwater, and seriously polluting soil, water, and air.

Despite criticism of OF, decreased environmental impact through use of organic production methods is mostly beneficial. Sustainable farming systems such as OF are now seen by many as a potential solution to continued worldwide loss of biodiversity of many species associated with farmland. A wide range of taxa (including birds and mammals, invertebrates, and arable flora) have been identified that benefit from organic management through an increase in abundance and/or species richness. It also highlights three broad management practices (prohibition/reduced use of chemical pesticides and inorganic fertilizers; sympathetic management of noncropped habitats; and preservation of mixed farming) that are largely

Figure 2 Examples of organic logos of the selected states (unions) (see, e.g., http://www.organic-europe.net, http://organic.com.au): (a) USA (USDA), (b) European Union, (c) Australia, (d) New Zealand, (e) Japan (JAS - Japanese Agricultural Standards), (f) China, (g) Argentina (IAO - Organizacion International Agropecuaria), (h) France, (i) Germany, (j) Great Britain, (k) Switzerland, (l) Austria, (m) Czech Republic, (n) Belgium, (o) Spain.

Figure 2 Examples of organic logos of the selected states (unions) (see, e.g., http://www.organic-europe.net, http://organic.com.au): (a) USA (USDA), (b) European Union, (c) Australia, (d) New Zealand, (e) Japan (JAS - Japanese Agricultural Standards), (f) China, (g) Argentina (IAO - Organizacion International Agropecuaria), (h) France, (i) Germany, (j) Great Britain, (k) Switzerland, (l) Austria, (m) Czech Republic, (n) Belgium, (o) Spain.

intrinsic (but not exclusive) to OF, and that are particularly beneficial for farmland wildlife. Enhanced soil fertility and higher floral and faunal diversity were found in OF experiments.

However, it is also necessary to realize other key issues: (1) it remains unclear whether a 'holistic' whole-farm approach (i.e., organic) provides greater benefits to biodiversity than carefully targeted prescriptions applied to relatively small areas of cropped and/or noncropped habitats within conventional agriculture

(i.e., agroenvironment schemes); (2) many comparative studies encounter methodological problems, limiting their ability to draw quantitative conclusions; (3) our knowledge of the effects of OF in pastoral and upland agriculture is limited; (4) there remains a pressing need for longitudinal, system-level studies in order to address these issues and to fill in the gaps in our knowledge of the effects of OF, before a full appraisal of its potential role in biodiversity conservation in agroecosystems can be made.

Australia/Oceania

Figure 3 The certified organic area worldwide in SOEL (Stiftung (Ökologie & Landbau, Bad Dürkheim; www.soel.de) at survey 2006 (http://www.soel.de/oekolandbau/wettweit.html). Reproduced by permission of SOEL.

Australia/Oceania

Figure 3 The certified organic area worldwide in SOEL (Stiftung (Ökologie & Landbau, Bad Dürkheim; www.soel.de) at survey 2006 (http://www.soel.de/oekolandbau/wettweit.html). Reproduced by permission of SOEL.

Table 1 Land under organic management and organic farms worldwide by continent

Continent

Organic land area (million ha)

Percentage of organic land area

Number of farms/percentage

Africa

1.2

3

118329/19

Asia

4.1

13

130000/21

Australia/Oceania

12.2

39

2662/0.5

Europe

6.5

21

167 000/27

Latin America

6.4

20

193062/31

North America

1.4

4

12 000/2

Total area/number

31.8

623053

See for details Wilier H and Yussefl M (2006) The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics and Emerging Trends 2006. Bonn (Germany): International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), and Frick (Switzerland): Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL).

Table 2 Main land-use categories by continent

Organic land

Percent

Percent of

Percent of

Percent of certified

area (million

of arable

permanent

permanent

land with unknown

Continent

ha)

land

crops

pastures

land use

Africa

1.2

8

29

3

60

Asia

4.1

13

1

72

14

Australia/Oceania

12.2

3

97

Europe

6.5

42

7

45

6

Latin America

6.4

2

9

50

38

North America

1.4

50

2

32

16

See for details Willer H and Yussefi M (2006) The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics and Emerging Trends 2006. Bonn (Germany): International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), and Frick (Switzerland): Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL).

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