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Scientific Aspects of Agnihotra: Agriculture - Biodiversity (Part I)

     Since more than a decade now a dramatic decline of bee population has been noticed worldwide. Now we learn that a similar decline can be found regarding all insects.
Recently an alarming study was published by scientists from Germany, Great Britain, and the Netherlands. Insects were captured in nature reserves throughout Germany and counted. This long-term study found that within 25 years there was a reduction of 75%!


Flying insects caught in a malaise trap, used by entomologists to collect samples.

Hans de Kroon, at Radboud University in the Netherlands who led this research, commented:
“The fact that the number of flying insects is decreasing at such a high rate in such a large area is an alarming discovery.”
Prof. Dave Goulson of Sussex University, UK, also part of the team conducting this study, added: “Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth [but] there has been some kind of horrific decline,” “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”
(More details you find e.g. here::
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/18/warning-of-ecological-armageddon-after-dramatic-plunge-in-insect-numbers)

The reasons for this dramatic reduction of insects are not clear yet as that was not part of the study. Important reasons seem to be
- the increasing use of pesticides in agriculture
- monoculture is practiced on large areas
- there is a reduction of hedges, bushes, and forest rims around agricultural fields
- even light pollution may play a role as it interferes with the normal rhythms of diurnal and nocturnal insects
- Herbicides like glyphosate kill all plants except those which are genetically modified to resist this substance. Total loss of plant biodiversity on areas where such herbicides are used.

What is biodiversity?
Although this recently documented reduction of insects itself shows a dramatic loss of biodiverstiy (which one of the scientists involved in the study considers as „ecological Armageddon“) this is just one aspect of the loss of biodiversity which we face. So let us have a more general look: What is biodiversity – and why is it essentially necessary for the planet?

Biodiversity is the shortened form of "biological diversity." It refers to all the variety of life that can be found on Earth (plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms) as well as to the communities that they form and the habitats in which they live.

There were several conferences organized by United Nations on Biological Diversity starting in 1989. In June 1992 during United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro (the Rio "Earth Summit") a Convention on Biological Diversity was passed later on signed by many countries. This Convention defines biodiversity as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems.”
(https://www.thegef.org/topics/biodiversity)


 Photo: © MultiWatch

Why is biodiversity important for us humans?

Monoculture seems to be a result of a thought pattern which reduces Nature to just supplying food, water, timber, and fibre for humans. e.g. on huge areas corn or cotton is grown – any other plant will be seen as unwanted weed and tried to eliminate. Same with insects etc.
But Nature does not work that way. In Nature, there is no monoculture. Always there is a great variety of plants, microbes, insects, and other animals which interact and coexist in harmony.
Science is just at the beginning to analyse and understand this multi-layered system of interactions and interdependencies.
Even when we comparing Nature to a complicated machine (of course Nature is much more than that) it is clear that interfering in one place may have repercussions at many other places (which we may not always foresee). Following model is from www.panda.org:

"Our planet is simply amazing.
Viewed by someone not from our world, it could be seen as one big, finely tuned and ultimately incredible machine.
Lots of cogs, pullies and wheels (animals, plants and environments) working together. Depending on each other in so many ways. Creating a green, blue healthy world that you, us, everyone depends on.
For food, fuel, medicine and other essentials that we simply cannot live without.
Sure this machine can take some knocks and bruises.
It can bounce back.
Stretch. Adapt. Mend.
It is part of what makes it so marvelous.
But we're beginning to pull and stretch it further than it has ever been stretched before.
We're entering unknown territory where some of the extinctions we are causing may have deep and profound effects on how we live our lives.
In the grand time scale of our planet, these effects may be currently seen as the equivalent of storm clouds gathering on the horizon.
But rest assured, the storm is coming.
Unless we learn to start loving and caring for what our planet already gives us.“

(http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/biodiversity)

          How does Homa Organic Farming help to calm down this "storm on the horizon," to bring Nature back to Harmony, to restore biodiversity?  
-   Find the answer in the next blog.

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