August 3, 2005

Birds, plants thrive on UK organic farms -study

LONDON (Reuters) - Birds and bats and wild plants are
thriving on Britain's organic farms, a study by the British
Trust for Ornithology (BTO) said on Wednesday.

On organic farms, there are 109 percent more wild plants
and 85 percent more plant species than on non-organic farms.

Organic farms support 32 percent more birds and 35 percent
more bats than non-organic farms, the BTO, a charity carrying
out independent research on birds, said.

There are also 5 percent more bird species on organic
farms, according to the study which was funded by the
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Smaller fields and thicker hedges on organic farms and the
fact that these farms don't use agrochemicals are all
contributory factors, the study found. "Organic farms clearly
have positive biodiversity effects for wild flowers. However if
they are to provide benefits on the same scale for species that
need more space, like birds, we either need the farms to be
larger or for neighboring farms to be organic too," Dr Rob
Fuller, director of Habitat Research for the BTO said.

Just three percent of English farmland is organic, he

The Soil Association, which promotes organic farming, also
welcomed the study.

"A greater area of organically-managed land in the UK would
help restore the farmland wildlife that has been lost from our
countryside in recent decades with intensive farming," Soil
Association policy manager Gundula Azeez said.

The data was collected from 160 farms.