In a recently published review article it is discussed how farmers, to ensure food production, can take advantage of ecosystem services such as pollination, nutrient transformation and pest control using naturally occurring enemies.
Three researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, and University of Reading in UK has this week published a review article in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution. In the article they discuss how it is possible through so-called "ecological intensification" to utilize ecosystem services such as pollination, nutrient transformation and pest control using naturally occurring enemies to ensure food production.
Active fallows and maintenance of field islands
The researchers describe how they can strengthen pollination by putting arable land in fallow and by increasing the quality and quantity of uncultured environments (for example, field islands and pastures) in the agricultural landscape. These environments contribute with food, nests, and wintering areas for several organisms. Uncultured environments are also important to promote the natural control of pests.
Reduce chemical control
To strengthen these ecosystem services it is also important to reduce the amount of pesticides used. Chemical control of pests also affects the natural enemies negatively.
Catch crops and manure
To grow a great variety of crops, to grow catch crops and to fertilize with manure is positive for the nutrient transformation, because organisms important for transformations of nutrients benefit from these measures.
What the researchers have done
The review article is a compilation of a variety of studies looking at how various management measures affect ecosystem services and where the results can be used to preserve the biological diversity that performs ecosystem services while producing large harvests. The researchers say, however, that there is still no information on how much the yields actually increase, and the costs of these measures.