Comparing organic farming and land sparing: optimizing yield and butterfly populations at a landscape scale

  • Published source details Hodgson J.A., Kunin W.E., Thomas C.D., Benton T.G. & Gabriel D. (2010) Comparing organic farming and land sparing: optimizing yield and butterfly populations at a landscape scale. Ecology Letters, 13, 1358-1367.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Convert to organic farming

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Convert to organic farming

    A replicated, paired sites, site comparison study in 2007–2008 in 16 sites of arable farmland in England, UK (Hodgson et al 2010) found that butterfly abundance, but not species richness, was higher on organic farms than conventional farms and on either farm type within landscapes with relatively high proportions of organic farming. There was higher abundance of butterflies on organic than on conventional farms and on either type of farm within a wider landscape which had a relatively high proportion of organic farming (data presented as model results). However, there was no effect of organic farming at the farm or landscape scale on species richness (data presented as model results). Eight pairs of 10 km2 landscapes were selected, matched in environmental conditions, where one of the pair contained a high proportion of organic farming (average: 17.2%) and the other had a low proportion of organic farming (average: 1.4%). Within each landscape one organic farm and one conventional farm was selected. Fifteen-minute walking butterfly transects were conducted along the centre and margins of six fields (three arable and three pasture) within each farm. In June–August 2008, seventy-five percent of farms were surveyed twice and 25% once. Surveys were also conducted in some arable fields only in June–August 2007 (number of visits not provided).

    (Summarised by: Eleanor Bladon)

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