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David George of STC - Profiting from Sustainability Feedback Session April 2015

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Presentation by David George of Stockbridge Technology Center at the Profiting from Sustainability Feedback Session in York organised by Future Food Solutions Ltd

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David George of STC - Profiting from Sustainability Feedback Session April 2015

  1. 1. Biodiversity – why bother? The benefits of going ‘multi-functional’ Avoiding ‘Bad Biodiversity’ Getting more bang for your biodiversity buck Where biodiversity fits in ‘sustainable intensification’ Improving yields and on-farm biodiversity David George, Stockbridge Technology Centre david.george@stc-nyorks.co.uk
  2. 2. Biodiversity – how do I relate to it? Biodiversity is akin to a live-in house keeper You provide food and shelter, biodiversity provides services that you’d otherwise have to pay for
  3. 3. But how good a job does it do? This time next year in a world with no constraints on pest populations*… The 200 000 million descendants of 1 pair of houseflies cover the earth to a depth of 15km The descendants of 1 aphid mother – at 250 million tonnes – circle the equator a million times The descendants of 1 pair of cabbage whites - with wings closed - cover Austrailia with a tower rising into the stratosphere faster than the speed of light*Assumes max. fecundity and zero mortality…fortunately unrealistic!
  4. 4. So if I stick in a flower strip for my EFA / NELMs, my pests will be controlled? Pollinatormix Biocontrolmix Combination Selective field margin flower mixes do this… OK in a garden, but using finite non- cropped agri land in such a restricted way is a waste! Not quite. As a ‘live-in house keeper’ biodiversity can be a fussy eater and snobby about accommodation
  5. 5. ‘Multi-functional’ field margins can do this… YIELD YEAR Carrots Cereals Peas Cabbages 2010 No difference No difference Could not be analysed: poor crop No difference 2011 No difference Yield increased near margin by 22.5%max Yield increased near margin by 41.1%max Yield increased near margin by 15.8%max 2012 No difference No difference Yield higher near margin and field centre by 74.2%max Yield increased near margin by 29.9%max 2013 Yield decreased near margin by 25.4%max No difference No difference No difference Biological systems are inherently variable and benefits of even the very best seed mixes may not be seen year-on-year
  6. 6. This ‘multi-functionality’ may be harder to design, but not to implement on-farm Ecostac seed mixes took years to fully develop, but the hard work has already been done They’re still just seed mixes - they costs the same and can be treated the same as any standard mix
  7. 7. Є153bill (global) $4.5bill (US) Waste disposal: $760bill Soil formation: $25bill Nitrogen fixation: $90bill Chem. bio- remediation: $121bill Pollination: $200bill Biocontrol of pests: $100bill £440mill (UK) Losey & Vaughn 2006 Gallai 2009 Pimental et al 1997: Global TOTAL: $3000 billion What else can biodiversity do?
  8. 8. Can we make biodiversity more efficient?
  9. 9. But beware ‘Bad Biodiversity’: Some house- keepers may run off with the family silver! • Knapweeds often feature in seed mixes for field margins as they’re attractive to bees and butterflies • BUT, many butterflies are pests! • Brown knapweed around sprouts = more cabbage white adults/larvae •
  10. 10. How do I get more bang for my biodiversity buck? Be ‘multi-functional’ in your approach to ‘CAP greening’ and environmental stewardship and you could get ‘paid’ twice – once by the EU and again by an in-kind contribution to production from biodiversity Approach non-crop areas as you would crop fields - plan, maintain and manage them to ensure optimum biodiversity ‘yields’ whilst avoiding ‘losses’ Consider other on-farm activities and how they can add value: Biodiversity alone is unlikely to achieve ‘sustainable intensification’, but it can’t be achieved without it
  11. 11. Fortunately, biodiversity is compatible with other cogs in the ‘SI’ machine IN FIELD: Precision farming; controlled traffic; min. till IN CROP: Resistant varieties; biopesticides; biocontrol ON FARM BIODIVERSITY: Shelter, Alternative prey, Floral resources, Environment (SAFE) Removes variability to increase yield and reduce chemical inputs Reduces reliance on conventional chemical PPPs Provides services that would otherwise have to be paid for Tru-Nject
  12. 12. “Producing enough food for the world’s population in 2050 will be easy. But doing it at an acceptable cost to the planet will depend on research into everything from high-tech seeds to low-tech farming practices.” Nature 466: 531-532 Combining high-tech and low-tech is the key to the ‘SI’ lock
  13. 13. Recent in crop innovations typically good for biodiversity as well as yield IN FIELD: Precision farming; controlled traffic; min. till IN CROP: Resistant varieties; biopesticides; biocontrol ON FARM BIODIVERSITY: Shelter, Alternative prey, Floral resources, Environment (SAFE) Removes variability to increase yield and reduce chemical inputs Reduces reliance on conventional chemical PPPs Provides services that would otherwise have to be paid for SUSTAINABILITY
  14. 14. Conclusions - conventional
  15. 15. Conclusions – Biodiversity can pay! Pollination Nutrient retention Trap crop biomass ES points£ pest control: COST GAIN

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