Agricultural Ecology

Benefits of diversity

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Science  16 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6454, pp. 653-654
DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6454.653-c

Smaller fields and diverse crops improve the biodiversity and resilience of farmed landscapes.

PHOTO: BLOM/GETTY IMAGES

Increasingly, our planet's landscapes are becoming homogenized into large areas of monoculture of very few species. This renders food security vulnerable to pests, disease, and natural disasters. Increasing biodiversity by encouraging seminatural patches in a landscape improves crop resilience by harboring natural predators and pollinators. By sampling a variety of agricultural landscapes across North America and Europe, Sirami et al. show that making fields smaller and crops more diverse has an even stronger effect on resilience than just leaving seminatural areas between crops. This is because crop diversity provides multiple refuges for predatory animals. Policies to increase crop heterogeneity may improve biodiversity in agricultural landscapes without taking land out of production.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1906419116 (2019).

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