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Biological Control and Pollination Services on Organic Farms

  • Elias H. Bloom
  • David W. Crowder
Chapter

Abstract

Organic farming is an ecologically responsible method of food production encompassing “holistic production systems that promote and enhance agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity” (Dabbert et al. 2004) (Fig. 3.1). In contrast, many conventional farming systems sacrifice ecosystem services including biological control, pollination, and soil conservation for short-term increases in yield (Fig. 3.1). By conserving ecosystem services, organic farms generally produce yields only slightly lower than conventional farms with significantly less inputs (Crowder and Reganold 2015) (Fig. 3.1). The combination of high yields and organic premiums, which are paid by consumers in part because organic farming is considered more environmentally friendly, allows organic farms to often exceed the profits of conventional farms (Crowder and Reganold 2015).

Organic farming is an alternative agricultural system that encompasses holistic production tactics that promote and enhance ecosystem health. Organic farms rely on diverse communities of beneficial insects to provide critical ecosystem functions such as decomposition, biological control, and pollination. However, the conservation of ecosystem services in agricultural ecosystems including organic farms is a complex challenge, in part due to factors such as climate change and habitat loss. Organic farmers have begun to meet this challenge by adopting on-farm and landscape-level measures to preserve and restore ecosystem services, although more work is needed to stem the loss of global biodiversity. Here, we review the impacts of organic farming on communities of natural enemies and pollinators, and the services they provide. We also describe strategies currently used, and future research opportunities, that could further promote the conservation of these beneficial groups and their services in organic systems. Our review suggests that the conservation of natural enemies and pollinators on organic farms will require a multi-scale approach in which on-farm and landscape-level conservations are of equal importance. However, more research is needed to identify the particular practices that promote both of these beneficial groups simultaneously.

Keywords

Ecosystem Service Biological Control Natural Enemy Organic Farm Conventional Farm 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EntomologyWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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