Changing How We Farm Might Protect Wild Mammals—and Fight Climate Change

Nearly a quarter of U.S. mammal species are on the endangered species list. Researchers say farming with biodiversity in mind may help stave off further decline.

May 6, 2024 | Source: Civil Eats | by Ruscena Wiederholt

Tom Farquhar planted several large plots of beneficial flowers around his vegetable farm in Montgomery County, Maryland. Once a conventional corn and soybean farm, the idea was to control pests at the Certified Naturally Grown operation by increasing the number of beneficial predator insects and spiders. And the method worked: “We don’t have too many big insect problems,” he said.

But the crop-free plantings have had another effect, Farquhar explained. They have also increased the number of mammals on the farm. Strips of trees, bushes, grasses, or flowers around agricultural or pasture fields can house higher numbers of small mammals than cropland. Additionally, the diversity of Farquhar’s crops and the chemical-free nature of his farm also attracted and supported small mammals, he said.

“We see lots of rabbits, groundhogs, mice, and voles in our fields,” he wrote in an email to Civil Eats. “Also, raccoons, especially when sweet corn is ripening.”