Originally published November 11, 2019 on The Organic Center
Insects can be really important and beneficial to crop production when they provide services such as pollination and help control other pest insects. A recent study published in Science Advances shows that crop yield improves when the abundance and diversity of insects increase. Using data from 89 studies conducted on 1,475 field sites across the world, researchers found that the diversity of pollinators and natural enemies is very important to crop yield, and insect diversity contributes to yield in a separate way from their abundance. This means that it makes a difference who is in the field, and not just how many. While there is a growing body of science that shows chemically intensive agriculture threatens beneficial insect communities, this study found natural habitat around farms and the diversity of that habitat improve the diversity of beneficial insects, which translates to direct gains in yield for farmers.