A recent article on the BBC News Science and Environment site caught our attention. It refers to a study carried out by researchers at the University of Swansea and educational institutes in France, which says, in a nutshell, that organic farming offsets the affects of conventional farming in restoring natural habitat to the land. Results of the study show that organic methods provide the right elements for wildlife to thrive. How well any of those who live in the country near farms which have kept traditional farming methods at the heart of their business, know this to be true. Farms, even non-organic farms, which use smaller fields, keeping ditiches and natural hedgerow boundaries, have seen an increase in wildlife on thier lands. Birds love the shelter of the hedgerows for safe nesting, not to mention the abundance of food in wild berries and plants which occur naturally in this environment. The study showed that organic farming methods increased weed diversity, also providing food for birds, bees and other wildlife.
This makes a lot of sense to us. On our travels, we have spoken to many farmers who have taken the plunge to farm organically from conventional methods, or to farm as much as possible without the use of chemicals, and all of them have said how much easier things become when the natural balance of the land is restored. The battle to fight weeds becomes less stressful, the land finds ways to repair itself of any issues, farm livestock gain the advantage of having natural chemical free grazing and wild herbs to dine on. It’s a win win situation in most cases, they have reported. This latest official study shows that even mixed organic and non-organic methods on a farm can have beneficial results – with just 25% of fields farmed organically said to make a difference. It’s encouraging stuff, and perhaps motivation for those Irish farmers who have been thinking of going down the organic route to think about it even more seriously. Irish, home grown, and local are our buzzwords at Good Food Ireland, and how much more satisfying it would be to be able to proudly add ‘organic’ to those, on a much more regular basis.