First survey of biodiversity measures in Val Venosta’s orchards
VIP, the Val Venosta Cooperatives Association, has always focused on a natural and sustainable production. With a broad survey of various measures to promote biodiversity in the cultivation area, which is also anchored in the sustainability strategy of the South Tyrolean sector “sustainapple”, VIP has now set another milestone.
Orchards and agricultural areas are primarily used for producing healthy food, but they are important habitats of different animals and plants at the same time. Protecting and promoting this ecosystem and its biodiversity is completely in line with a natural and sustainable fruit production. VIP has always strived to promote biodiversity and thus a natural production in the Val Venosta production area with the help of different measures.
The “Orchard habitat questionnaire” was elaborated during the last years in collaboration with the South Tyrolean Advisory Service for Fruit Production and Winegrowing, the Bioland South Tyrol association and organic farmers in the VIP and Biosüdtirol production area. This questionnaire is a practical tool that helps the producers to gather and compare data about the ecological measures for promoting biodiversity in their agricultural businesses. The questionnaire includes 53 single measures that are thematically summarized in 9 categories and demonstrably promote biodiversity.
Thanks to the data collected in 2020 Val Venosta’s producers can for the first time get an overview of their biodiversity measures in direct comparison with the ones of other agricultural businesses in Val Venosta. Consequently, the overview also constitutes an incentive to implement further ecological measures.
Approx. 250 agricultural businesses – most of them organic ones – with a total production area of more than 1000 hectares participated in the survey. This equals almost a fifth of Val Venosta’s production area. The results of the survey prove that the majority of the surveyed agricultural businesses have already implemented various ecological measures in their orchards. Let’s now have a look at some measures and results from the survey.
Hedges and shrubs as species-rich habitats: 71% of the surveyed agricultural businesses in Val Venosta have hedges in their orchards with the total area of hedges equaling about 10 football pitches. Flower strips and sowings in the orchards: Flower strips and sowings in the lanes or at their edges increase the complexity of the ecosystem in the orchards. A third of all surveyed agricultural businesses has already implemented this measure.
Nest boxes and nesting aids for insects and birds: Many useful songbirds are cavity-nesting birds. 67% of the surveyed agricultural businesses offer birds appropriate nest boxes for rearing their brood. There also are suitable nesting aids for flying insects in the form of so-called insect hotels offered by 47% of the surveyed agricultural businesses.