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Agricultural Diversification Enhances Ecosystem Services While Maintaining Yields, Research Finds

The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences reports that an international research group found that increasing diversity in crop production systems benefits ecosystem services and biodiversity without compromising crop yields. Researchers analyzed nearly 42,000 comparisons between diversified and simplified agricultural practices, and found that both above- or below-ground diversification were beneficial for the environment. Management practices that contribute to diversity include growing multiple crops in a rotation, planting flower strips within fields, reducing tillage, adding organic amendments that enrich soil life, and establishing or restoring species-rich habitat in the landscape surrounding crop fields. Additionally, diversification practices maintained or even increased crop yields in a majority of cases.