Do you want to increase farm profitability while helping pollinators at the same time?
It is as simple as adding biodiversity to your farm or ranch.
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the kind and number of different biological species within an ecosystem. Biological species include animals, birds, plants, insects, bacteria, fungi, algae and other living organisms. Biodiversity also includes the interactions between different species, how different living things behave and survive, and the living conditions in which all these species exist.
How can you increase biodiversity?
- Protect unused natural areas.
- Choose to use sustainable agricultural practices.
- Remove invasive species.
- Add green infrastructure in urban areas and/or permaculture in rural areas.
- Practice rewilding - the practice of restoring connectivity between fragmented protected areas and letting nature manage itself to become healthier.
- Plant cornerstone plant species that help support larger ecosystems. Narango et al. 2020 found that 5% of native plant species provide 75% of the food for butterfly caterpillars. Planting these powerhouse plant species will help jumpstart a more diverse ecosystem and support the whole food web. Some top trees for butterflies are native oaks, cherry, plums, peaches, willows, poplars, aspens and cottonwoods. Top plants included goldenrod, asters and perennial sunflowers. Making keystone trees and plants 50% of the landscape doubled the amount of butterflies species supported.
- Use existing resources to promote applied research. Universities, garden centers, nature conservatories, neighborhood cooperatives, gardening clubs and others could join forces to promote biodiversity and give out essential knowledge about the cultivation and care of declining native plants. Declining native plant species could be planted in public green spaces. Region-specific lists of endangered plant species, as well as planting concepts and seed mixtures for these species could encourage a science-driven approach to gardening (Segar et al. 2022).
The benefits of increased biodiversity include:
- Increased happiness: Methorst et al. (2020) found that greater bird diversity is as important for European's life satisfaction as increasing their income. Mavoa et al. (2019) also noted that higher levels of greenness and biodiversity were associated with greater wellbeing.
- Better crop yields
- Increased pollination
- Better pest control
- Enhanced nutrient sharing
- Healthier soils: biodiversity of microbes, fungi, bacteria and other soil organisms is vital to decompose waste matter.
- Cleaner water
- Toxin detoxification
- More beauty
- Genetic diversity
S Mavoa, M Davern, M Breed, A Hahs. Higher levels of greenness and biodiversity associate with greater subjective wellbeing in adults living in Melbourne, AustraliaHealth Place, 57 (2019), pp. 321-329, 10.1016/j.healthplace.2019.05.006
- J Methorst, K Rehdanz, T Mueller, B Hansjürgens, A Bonn, K Böhning-Gaese. The importance of species diversity for human well-being in Europe. Ecological Economics, 2020; 106917 DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2020.106917
- DL Narango, DW Tallamy, KJ Shropshire. Few keystone plant genera support the majority of Lepidoptera species. Nature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-19565-4
- Josiane Segar, Corey T. Callaghan, Emma Ladouceur, Jasper N. Meya, Henrique M. Pereira, Andrea Perino, Ingmar R. Staude. Urban conservation gardening in the decade of restoration. Nature Sustainability, 2022; DOI: 10.1038/s41893-022-00882-z