Biodiversity is the summed variety of life on earth, from genes to ecosysems. In farming systems this includes both planned and associated diversity. Planned diversity reflects deliberate choices made via human managment and can include crop diversity, windbrakes, and pasture managment. Associated diversity includes that diversity drawn from the lands within and around the farm beyond the scope of direct managment of the farmer. This can include benefical birds and insect pollinators, crop pests, and soil microbes. Together, planned and associated diversity proviede a diversity of beneifts to the farm and the larger landscape.
Ecosystem services are the benefits that people receive from nature or more specifically, biodiversity. We often forget that agriculture depends on natural processes to assemble carbon, water, and soil nutrients into an ear of corn, to pollinate a crop, or to suppress crop pests. The variety of services provided by agricultural diversity include the production of food, fiber and fuel, biological control, pollination, aesthetic landscapes, carbon sequestration, climate control, purification of air and water, production of high quality soil, flood control, and breakdown of waste into nutrients. Though ecosystem services are provided free of charge, thier estimated global value exceeds $127 trillion dollars per year.
Agriculture in the South and indeed farming systems globally are depenedent on biodiversity and ecosysem services. In the future farmers and land managers must consider impacts of farming practices on thier farm and the larger landscape to ensure the future of nature and its associated beneifts.