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Ambio. 2005 Dec;34(8):582-8.

The effects of farm size and organic farming on diversity of birds, pollinators, and plants in a Swedish landscape.

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  • 1Department of Rural Development and Agroecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala.


This study compares diversity and abundance of birds plus abundance of butterflies, bumblebees and herbaceous plants between six small farms (<52 ha arable land) and six large farms (>135 ha arable land) in Roslagen in southeastern Sweden. Two of the large and four of the small farms were organic. Large-scale landscape mosaic and underlying bedrock were similar for all farms. Statistical analysis was performed using box-plots on medians and analysis of variance on mean values. More than twice as many bird species and territories, butterflies, and herbaceous plant species, and five times more bumblebees were found on the small compared to the large farms. The largest differences were found between small organic and large conventional farms. Differences were also noted between small and large organic farms: 56% more bird species were found on small organic than on large organic farms, although none of the farms used any pesticides. We therefore argue that the consideration of organic agriculture's effect on biodiversity should include factors affected by farm size.

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