Firstly, what does biodiversity mean? Formed from the two words Biological and Diversity, biodiversity refers to all the variety of life that can be found in an area (plants, animals, microorganisms) as well as the communities they form and the habitat in which they live.
Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity, where each species, no matter how small, all have an important role to play. Example, a larger number of plant species means a greater variety of crops. Greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms.
Healthy ecosystems clean our water, purify our air, maintain our soil, regulate the climate, recycle nutrients and provide us with food. Biodiversity is the key indicator of the health of an ecosystem.
Polyculture vs Monoculture
Polyculture is a form of agriculture in which more than one species is grown at the same time and this is the type of farming landscape that one sees in the Armagnac region. Polyculture is advantageous because of its ability to control pests, weeds and disease, without major chemical input. Polyculture is becoming more popular in the world today due to its environmental and health benefits. However, the opposite, Monoculture, as it sounds, refers to a single plant species grown over a large area of land, which is the case in many of the large French AOC wine and spirit areas due to economic reasons. It stands to reason that monoculture practices have a negative effect on the structure of the underlying soil as there is only one type of root available to trap moisture and avoid erosion, it depletes the nutritional value in the soils, therefore fertilisers are necessary, which in turn disrupts the natural balance of the soil and are damaging to the environment.
Polyculture increases local biodiversity
In the Armagnac region we are extremely fortunate to benefit from a wide and biodiverse landscape that includes many forests with a multitude of different species of indigenous and other trees, fields for animal grazing and varied crops including sunflowers and cereals and even those put aside for wild flowers, orchards with fruits and nuts, lakes and rivers.