O'Brien, Martin and Spillane, Charles and Meade, Conor and Mullins, Ewen
An Insight into the Impact of Arable Farming on Irish Biodiversity: A Scarcity of Studies Hinders a Rigorous Assessment.
Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 108B (2).
To help understand and counteract future agronomic challenges to farmland biodiversity, it is
essential to know how present farming practices have affected biodiversity on Irish farms. We present
an overview of existing research data and conclusions, describing the impact of crop cultivation on
biodiversity on Irish arable farms. An extensive literature review clearly indicates that peer-reviewed
publications on research conducted in Ireland on this topic are quite scarce: just 21 papers
investigating the effect of conventional crop cultivation on Irish biodiversity have been published
within the past 30 years. Principally, these studies have concluded that conventional crop cultivation
has had an adverse impact on biodiversity on Irish farms, with 15 of the 21 studies demonstrating
negative trends for the taxa investigated. Compared to other EU states, the relative dearth of baseline
data and absence of monitoring programmes designed to assess the specific impacts of crop
cultivation on Irish biodiversity highlight the need to develop long-term research studies. With
many new challenges facing Irish agriculture, a research programme must be initiated to measure
current levels of biodiversity on arable land and to assess the main farming 'pressures' causing
significant biodiversity loss or gains in these systems.
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