> Case Studies
> Protecting and preserving ecosystems through respectful agricultural practices
Protecting and preserving ecosystems through respectful agricultural practices
BASF, the world leading chemical company, is operating a Crop Protection division whose role is to enhance sustainable agriculture, providing farmers with products and services to improve crop yields and quality. BASF recognizes that the functioning of ecosystems is important for agriculture and the company’s customers, the farmers. Moreover, it acknowledges that competitive agriculture needs to be compatible with biodiversity, in order to be accepted by society. This is why BASF has developed several programs aiming to combine agriculture and biodiversity conservation.
Project 1 – Testing methods of biodiversity enhancement on commercial farms (UK)
Since 2002, BASF has been working in partnership with a commercial farm at Rawcliffe Bridge, Great Britain. The owners agreed to implement and monitor new biodiversity methods suggested by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. All data has been collected by independent experts and is published.
An approach based on food supply
Since 2003 bird numbers have been monitored on the farmed area and in trees recently planted in an unproductive field. Using a “bed and breakfast” type approach, nest boxes have been set up on the trees and wild bird food crops have been planted so as to provide season-long food supplies. One hectare near woodland was also sown with a grass mix, while two hectares nearby were sown with field margin mixtures – all aimed at encouraging seed production, insects and groundfeeding birds. Some farming practices were changed to minimize the impact to birds and their food source.
Encouraging results on biodiversity conservation
Since 2003, the farm has provided inspiration to 650 annual visitors and habitats for over 100 bird species (annual records are approximately 70 species), 25 percent of them being considered endangered. Scientists have recorded approximately 150 plant species growing in the field margins – a third more than average.
Project 2 – Planting trees for a more sustainable agriculture (Brazil)
Initiated by BASF in 1984, the Brazilian “Mata Viva” initiative is based on future farmers’ education as well as actions to restore and conserve biodiversity, protect the quality of water, and create areas to preserve native vegetation and wild life.
The initiative began when the company began restoration of the land around its main South American chemical complex at Guaratinguetá. Fundação Espaço ECO, a nonprofit organization established by BASF and GTZ with the mission to promote Sustainable Development in Latin-America, is responsible for implementing and strategically steering the program for BASF.
A two-fold project: restoration and education
Employees of BASF Brazil joined forces with a broad range of partners from both the business and scientific communities, including cooperatives and farmers, to plant more than half a million native Brazilian trees, covering an area of around 300 hectares since the implementation of the program. The program engaged farmers around sustainable agriculture and is contributing to the enhancement of biodiversity. To ensure both transformation and continuity, the program trains technicians how to identify and map affected areas, understand a diagnosis, and follow a reforestation plan.
Project 3 – Protecting and preserving bees (France)
The increase in pollinators’ mortality has been noticed in different countries in the world, in France amongst others. Pollinators’ population decline has a direct impact on agriculture and consequently on BASF customers, the farmers. The company has therefore decided to join the French Bee Biodiversity Network, in order to actively contribute to the protection and enhancement of honey bees and pollinators in France.
Nutrition based solutions
The French Bee Biodiversity Network numbers over 300 partners, including scientists, beekeepers, farmers and private companies. Its goal is to enhance honey bee and pollinator populations in France through improvement of bee nutrition, which is not always sufficiently available in the agricultural landscape. The Bee Biodiversity Network therefore provides special “bee pastures” on more than 2500 hectares every year. The data shows that this is an effective measure to improve bee health.
These three programs all share the common objective of improving a region’s biodiversity, through different methods – whether it is through providing habitats and food supply to local species or reforestation and education programs. For BASF, the expected outcomes are multiple. They:
Demonstrate that modern and registered crop protection and good agricultural practices are compatible with biodiversity;
Improve and strengthen the relationship with farmers, by providing solutions that are compatible with farming practices; and
Enhance the reputation of the farming sector and BASF’s industry as a provider of agricultural solutions.
Further information can be found on the BASF AP website (www.agro.basf.com)