This week’s news that in many places insect populations are 85% down is very worrying. We need insects to pollinate our food and birds need insects to live. Such a drastic change to the food chain might well have unforeseeable events that affect us all. The causes we are told might be a combination of agricultural usage of chemicals and climate change. More research needs to be done we are told. .
Well this comes as no surprise to the organic world. We have been warning that biodiversity is under threat for decades and that agricultural practices were moving in the wrong direction. While the organic movement has had some success in reversing this trend the majority of farmers continue with chemical practices and most consumers only want cheap food. All of this is supported by government policy and exacerbated by the price wars between the different supermarkets.
Hopefully this current insect crisis will be a wake up call that cheap food produced with chemicals comes at a very high cost to the environment that supports us all. In the meantime all we can do is to try reverse this trend. An example of this is we leave aside a third of our land for a fertility building phase where we grow buckwheat to disc plough in to feed the soil microbes but only after they flower and have fed our insect population on the farm. I have mentioned this before and that this year we added phacelia and sunflowers to the mix.
Next year we will do it again and over the winter I will look at adding a few more plants to the mix. I will harvest some of this years sunflower heads and bring them home to hang in my garden for the birds to feed on and we will get a lot of pleasure watching them through the kitchen window. I just hope the squirrels leave some for the birds.