Organic Farming's Balanced Ecosystems Naturally Control Pests Better Than Monoculture

colorado potato beetle photo

photo: USDA

There are myriad advantages that organic farming has over chemical agriculture, from the health of the land to the quality of your food. Now a new study in the journal Nature details one aspect of that: The way in which the more balanced nature of ecosystems in organic farming support a greater variety of insects, preventing any one pest from dominating. Researchers from Washington State University examined insect pests and their natural enemies in potato crops and found that in organic fields the most abundant insect species accounted for as little as 38% of a field's insect predators. In conventional fields one species might be as high as 90% of all species.

In their potato test plots, they used Colorado potato beetles, and four insect species and three soil pathogens that attack the beetles. When the predators and pathogens were more balanced with the potato beetles the researchers found "significantly less potato beetles" and "we'd get bigger plants."

Washington State's David Crowder: "I think 'balance' is a good term; when the species are balanced, at least in our experiments, they're able to fulfill their roles in a more harmonious fashion." (Science Daily)

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More on Organic Farming:
Organic Farming Could Stop Global Climate Change
25% Reduction in Global Food Production by 2050: Organic Agriculture Part of the Solution
The World Needs a Farming Revolution! Declares UN Report

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