FA17 Organic farming

  This is a response (R) indicator. DPSIR= drivers, pressures, state, impact, responses. This indicator has not had any clear impact on biodiversity during 1900-1990, or the phenomenon has not existed (grey background). Since 1990 the development of the indicator has been moderately increasing (arrow).
>> Background information



In 2013 more than 206 000 hectares of arable land was under organic farming in Finland. This corresponds to 9% of the total arable area of the country.

Organic farming first started in the 1970s, but remained quite marginal until the 1990s. The area increased rapidly during the 1990s and reached 7% of total arable area in 2002. There was a moderate decline in the extent of organic farming in the mid-2000s, but the expanding trend continued again in 2007.

The share of organically farmed land of all farmland varies regionally. In 2012, the share of organic farming was greatest in Kainuu (23%), the Åland Islands (22%) and North Karelia (18%). In Häme and Satakunta the shares were smallest: less than 5% in both regions.

In a European comparison Finland ranks as tenth on the list of the share of organic farming. For example, in Austria, nearly 19% of all arable land is organically farmed. Italy (9%) and Spain (5%) have the greatest area of organic farming, both over a million hectares.


Impact on biodiversity

The amount of species is, in general, greater in areas under organic farming than on conventionally cultivated land. For example, on average 24 plant species per square metre have been found on Finnish organically cultivated fields compared to the 16 plant species found on conventional fields (see also FA10 Weeds on spring cereal fields). This difference is mainly explained by the fact that no pesticides are used on organically grown fields.

High plant species richness resulting from organic farming has been found to support greater variety of insect species. For example, on fields under organic farming studied in southern Finland, the amounts of butterfly species as well as individuals were larger than on conventional fields. This was mainly due to the abundance of hayfields and grass, since their edge vegetation is more diverse than those of cereal fields. The flowering plants on edges also offer food for many other pollinators such as the bumble bees, as well as seed-eating birds and some beetles.

Different elements of the environment, such as individual trees, bushes and varying microhabitats increase diversity on farmlands. Species which benefit the most from organic farming are usually common farmland species.
This indicator will be updated annually.  

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