Jared Walker Smith - 2005 Environmental Studies Senior Seminar Research Project
|How to Trap|
The Future of Agriculture and Biodiversity
It is still under debate whether large-scale sustainable practices, or land sparing practices (small areas of high-intensity agriculture leaving large natural areas) is more effective at conserving and promoting biodiversity in and around agricultural land. A very recent study by Green et al. (2005) addressed this question, specifically referring to wildlife-friendly farming and land sparing. The authors calculated through models that biodiversity is better sustained through land sparing, allowing more areas to be pure wilderness. They recognize the fact that more research needs to be done on this matter before definite conclusions can be reached. They take into account some of the potential limitations should these models be implemented, such as the effect of high-intensity agriculture on non-farmed areas. I would also question the long-term feasibility of intensively farming small areas of land, which can become exhausted in soil or nutrients. Also, there is the question of the growing human population, both in size and affluence, and the subsequent demand for more food production, in other words, more farmed land.
A second study by Hole et al. (2005) discusses whether organic farming methods better promotes biodiversity than conventional farming methods. While organic agriculture is not synonymous with sustainable agriculture, they practice many of the same methods. They reach similar conclusions to Green et al., in that organic farming promotes greater biodiversity in agricultural land, but that more research needs to be done on whether this method is better than a land sparing approach.
Small Mammals and Agriculture
What I hope to have imparted through this project is a sense of how vital small mammals are in natural ecosystems, and the essential roles they can play in agroecosystems as well. Knowledge of these communities can lead towards appreciation and respect of them, and perhaps an urge to protect them. I hope this project serves as a tool to Northfield area residents who wish to learn more about this rarely seen or appreciated community.So where does this leave us? It is clear that agriculture plays a key role in the loss or preservation of biodiversity, and biodiversity is essential to life, both human and non. If we can recognize this fact, and continue to evaluate our methods of farming, perhaps we can work towards a future that fulfills our needs as well as those of the natural communities surrounding us.