Thursday, 6 April 2017

The benefits of farm biodiversity (online)

 Mapping the Benefits of Farm Biodiversity
 While the ecological literature has firmly established that crop diversity is good, few studies help farmers home in on exactly which crops to rotate. Academics at the University of California are developing a new method, merging participatory research, GIS mapping, and a measure of evolutionary relatedness called “phylogenetics.” Imagine a tree of life, with different plant families branching off from common ancestors. Theoretically, more distant plant cousins are less likely to host the same pests and diseases. But just how distant do these plant cousins need to be? Farmers participating in the study can use maps of their farms’ evolutionary diversity to compare the environmental performance of different crop combinations. The maps have also facilitated a dialogue between farmers and researchers about crops that fill both ecological and economic niches. A wide array of ornamental flowers, for example, adds both biodiversity and a new high-value crop.

 (This post was sourced via GROW Observatory)

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