Agriculture and Biodiversity
Arguments and Positions
Biodiversity has declined in recent decades. It is in everyone’s interest to reverse this trend. The drop in biodiversity has various reasons. It is uncontested that agriculture bears a share in the responsibility.
The use of modern agrochemicals has repeatedly been criticised. However, this criticism overlooks their contribution to productive agriculture: Their use preserves natural resources and ensures high-quality foods for a growing world population.
However, there is no contradiction between productive agriculture and the protection of biodiversity: As the largest land user, modern agriculture can make a major contribution to promoting biodiversity by again providing larger numbers of suitable habitats in the agricultural landscape. Already today, many measures can be easily integrated in the processes on fields without losing sight of their primary purpose, i.e. supplying foods, energy crops and renewables.
Modern agriculture is part of the solution
The use of mineral fertilisers and plant protection products has considerably reduced the amount of land that German agriculture needs to produce its volumes of crops, compared with an agricultural management style without such imputs. If these products were no longer used in this country, more raw materials would have to be produced in other regions to cover the demand in Germany and worldwide.
This would necessitate the conversion of currently unused areas into agricultural land – with serious negative impacts on biodiversity.
Prior to their authorisation in the EU, plant protectants undergo extremely strict testing for all aspects of consumer and environmental protection. Industry has long been supporting farmers in the proper and safe use of its products. This is because plant protectants should get only where they have an effect, namely to control weeds, fungi and pests. In these efforts, digitalisation will have an important role in the future. For example, modern application techniques offer great opportunities to increase sustainability and efficiency in agriculture.
An open dialogue is needed
Promoting biodiversity is an overall task of society that can be achieved only through consensus and contributions from each individual. Studies show that in particular the structural shortcomings and the monotonous design of urban, industrial and agricultural landscapes cause impairments.
The chemical industry is committed to biodiversity as a societal task and wants to make its contribution in cooperation with agriculture. In a dialogue with all stakeholders, solutions should be developed that align the needs of productive agriculture and the goals of nature protection with each other.
- Support a holistic approach
Promoting biodiversity is an overall task of society and calls for a holistic approach. In order to develop this approach, the chemical industry is actively involved in an open dialogue along the entire value chain.
- Perception of modern agriculture as part of the solution
The primary task of agriculture is to supply food. An agricultural management style without mineral fertilisers and plant protectants would require almost twice as much land. Higher land requirements adversely affect biodiversity. This discrepancy needs to be taken into account, so that nature protection and food security can be aligned with each other.
- Digitalisation as an opportunity for efficiency increases
Plant protectants and fertilisers should be applied in a targeted and efficient manner. With a view to using the innovative techniques needed for this, the expansion of strong data networks must be driven forward in rural regions.