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Farming Practices and Their Effect

Effects of organic farming

Organic farming is generally considered to have a positive effect on biodiversity and other agricultural amenities. However, in recent years drastic changes have taken place in organic farming, and organic farmers today include both the traditional holistic ecologist and the ecologist who manages his farm for economic gain. In the same time span, crops and farming methods have also improved, resulting in efficient organic farming methods that often can be compared to conventional farming methods. Consequently, organic farming in Denmark today varies greatly.

In the project ”Refugia”, the impact of organic farming with varying cultivation intensity in the environment was studied in order to highlight to which extent organic farming acts as a refuge for biodiversity. A significant result was the evidence that there are more flowering plants in organic hedgerows than in conventional ones, provided the organic farming is long-term and continuous. Therefore, hedgerows on organic farms may be a better food source for pollinating insects.

Genetically modified organisms

The ecological risk assessment of genetically modified plants (GMP) and animals is handled by the Department of Bioscience on behalf of AU – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy (DCE)*. Assignments include commenting on and assessing Danish and other EU countries’ marketing applications as well as professional consultancy and support to the Ministry of the Environment and Food of Denmark. In addition, Danish and international communications are also included regarding releases and participation in relevant EU contexts. The ecological risk assessment of GMP by DCE, AU, is part of the overall risk assessment by the Ministry of the Environment and Food of Denmark along with the agricultural and health risk assessment.

Public sector consultancy is research based and is performed by a group of researchers with broad expertise in e.g. the fields of biotechnology developments, plant ecology and genetics.

*DCE = previously the National Environmental Research Institute (NERI) at Aarhus University (AU).

Effects of pesticides

More than half of Denmark’s land area is cultivated. Virtually all crops that are not grown organically are sprayed and fertilized. Spraying comprises pesticides such as herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. They are used in order to protect the cultivated crops so that the farmer gains as large a yield as possible. However, pesticides also have an impact where it is not intended.

In the book  ”Pesticides – impacts on the environment” you can read more about pesticides and their impact on the environment (Danish).

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