Integrating food, water and ecology in research and practice
Urban and peri-urban spaces are potentially important sites for organic food production. From roof-tops and balconies to campuses, institutional and organisational, such spaces, if designed for organic food production, could benefit from pollination services and also provide resources to sustain urban biodiversity.
The IIHS, Kengeri campus and Long-Term Urban Ecological Observatory (LTUEO) has an organic food farm with over 23 species, many of which benefit from visits by pollinators and pest control by birds and bats.
Amongst species that have been seen pollinating the pigeon pea plants are the pea blue butterfly, while the jowar has been visited often by stingless bees, and the moong crop by the Apis cerana honeybee, from the bee boxes on campus. Wild bees too visit the food farm and fruit trees. At the same time, the brinjal crop has sometimes been destroyed by another member species of the rich biodiversity on campus, the brinjal borer or the caterpillar of the Leucinodes orbonalis moth.
Pea blue butterfly, LTUEO /Kengeri campus
Water is often a precious and limiting resource for ecosystems, people, and urban spaces, and the IIHS LTUEO is no exception. Soil tensiometers have been installed to measure plant-available soil moisture that enables day-to-day decisions on irrigation and assessments of moisture retention at the rooting depth of the food plants. The food farm will be managed by integrating sustainability and nature-based solutions through the lens of an integrated framework linking ecology, water and food systems.