THE biggest ever survey carried out in Britain to study the effects of farm practices on wildlife has proved that organic farms support a vastly greater range of wild creatures ranging from bats to beetles.
The study, reported today by the Royal Society for the Advancement of Science, shows that being free of artificial pesticides and fertilisers, organic fields support 35% more birds, 35% more bats and even 15% more spiders. Plant species were up a massive 85%.
These results, although broadly expected, were higher than many people anticipated but there was a major departure today when the National Farmers' Union said that similar success cold be achieved by going back to the more traditional method of mixed-farming.
For many years, the NFU has cast doubts of whether organic farms could produce enough food to feed Britain. Now, it says, changes to the Common Agricultural Policy are encouraging farmers to go back to old style farming, with a wide range of crops and livestock.
This could produce similar results to the organic survey, said a spokesman: "It's a win-win situation."
This if one of the most important debates facing rural areas like the Yorkshire Dales as Britain goes through what is virtually another agricultural revolution. Our countryside commentator John Sheard will discuss this in more detail in A week in the country on Friday.