Agriculture relies on the immediate environmental factors such as soil, water, and air. Primarily, chemical components of these factors in a given region will affect the kind of agriculture and agricultural input in the region. On the other hand, type of farming practices adopted can also have positive and negative effects on the environment of a region.
Poor farming practices, as well as other industrial activities related to food production, often emit harmful substances into the agro-ecosystem, thus affecting agricultural production in the subsequent periods. To ensure sustainable production, there is need to examine this relationship closely and provide appropriate measures that can be used in management of the environment. This paper focuses on proper management of environment as a tool to ensuring continuous production in the agricultural sector.
Agriculture is the key source of human food, and the need for food constantly increases with the increasing global population. The adverse effects that poor environmental conditions have on agriculture will have direct negative impacts on the entire world’s population. Thus, analysis of the relationship between agriculture and the environment is of great significance to researchers in the contemporary society.
Unlike in the ancient times, the increasing population is exerting much pressure on existing resources. Farming practices that are exploitative and harmful to the environment have been adopted, eventually leading to low agricultural outputs. Moreover, thorough research in the field is necessary to come up with initiatives that can improve the understanding of management of environment for sustainable agricultural production.
Agriculture is the key source of food for human population. With the increasing world population, there is need to increase agricultural production to ensure food security. However, this poses challenges to the environment and subsequent adverse effects on future production. Thus, proper mechanisms need to be adopted.
Relationship between agriculture and the environment has been of interest to many researchers in the recent past. It is evident that continued production in agricultural sector will be determined by the understanding of environmental impacts on the activities by the management of the institutions or organizations concerned.
Agriculture involves cultivation of crops and livestock, both of which depend on natural resources (Lichtenberg, 3). It also involves direct extraction of parts of the natural resources, which are components of the ecosystem (e.g. in fishing or hunting).
These components (like plants and animal) are renewable; however, the rate at which they are extracted may be higher than the rate at which new components regenerate to replace parts that have been consumed. Besides, some of these crops may not be of reasonable value to human and yet they consume much resource (Heaps, para.2). Without an intervention, such resources are likely to be depleted, leading to food insecurity in the future.
Some of the farming practices are also harmful to the environment, primarily causing water pollution and affecting organisms that depend on such resources. Agricultural chemicals are developed to improve productivity; however, the increased use of various agricultural chemicals like fertilizers and pesticides lead to water pollution (Patel, Holt-Gimenez & Shattuck, para.7).
This affects human health and other organisms that are important biotic factors in the ecosystem (Lichtenberg, 2). In addition, excessive use of inorganic fertilizers is not only harmful to crops in the field, but can also affect other organisms.
These chemicals could find access to, and destroy the aquatic system. Pesticides derived from fossil products increase emission of greenhouse gases as well as contribute to adverse future environmental conditions. These chemicals are also harmful to human health and affect the productivity of farmers (Lichtenberg, 13). The chemicals also affect chemical content of food products, which are thus not fit for consumption (Pollan, para.61).
Similarly, poor farming methods like cultivation along riverbanks, cultivating along the slope and continuous cropping are some of the practices that have contributed to soil degradation, thereby, lowering production. These adverse effects can be prevented by the adoption of cultural farming practices.
Use of organic fertilizers and cultural methods of disease and pest/parasite control can reduce environmental pollution and improve the quality of farm products (Pollan, para.62). Various soil conservation measures like terracing, growing cover crops, especially in the riverbanks, intercropping, and fallowing is techniques that can prevent soil degradation (Patel, Holt-Gimenez & Shattuck, para.21).
Therefore, policy developers need to put more emphasis on those practices that favor the environment, whereas governments and other agencies need to subsidize these environmental conservation measures while at the same time levying heavy taxes on inputs that have adverse effects on the environment (Lichtenberg, 21). This will discourage the use of such harmful chemicals.
In general, adoption of measures to the environment, including wildlife is an effective tool to protect lives of the world population. However, there are certain obstacles to realizing this dream. One difficulty is on the development of an effective policy framework for environmental management.
Secondly, much of the research has been focused on environmental policies relating to agriculture as a single entity (Lichtenberg, 90). The issue should not be approached with a single farmer-consumer relationship in mind. The whole production process includes other players like companies producing agricultural chemicals as well as consumers of the agricultural products.
It is interesting to note that most of modern farming practices introduced to improve production receive less consideration as they are believed to be associated with poor quality of food products. Artisanale Café and Bistro is a café in Guelph, Ontario.
The organization is sensitive to the environmental effects of chemicals used in modern agriculture and teams up with local farmers to improve on the quality of food products. The management of organization acknowledges the need to provide good foods to the clients and argues that such good foods cannot be obtained using agricultural chemicals like fertilizers or pesticides (Sustain Ontario, Para.13).
The organization capitalizes on the use of natural environment in its pure state and discourages the use of inorganic fertilizers to promote quick growth to the crops. This reflects cultural practices in agricultural production that have been highlighted. As such, the organization promotes food production and security by sustainable agro-ecosystem.
Artisanale Café and Bistro is a member of a larger body Sustain Ontario and works with different organizations, the public sectors, and other food production companies to ensure that food system in Canada is healthy and sensitive to the environment. Sustain Ontario is concerned with the development of a food system in Ontario that is healthy and sensitive to environmental issues (Sustain Ontario, par.2).
The larger body is open to different groups such as the public, organizations, and various food companies, and coordinates the activities of these organizations in relation to developing food system. Indeed, various research activities are performed relating to food system.
Management of the environment should be concern with various governmental and non-governmental agencies. There is a need to give proper regulatory procedures that protect that environment to be followed by various participants in the agricultural sector. Various production companies and agricultural firms need to abide by the regulations in designing and executing their operations.
There is also a need to create awareness among the public on issues relating to management of environment. This is achieved through developing curriculum in educational institutions that includes environmental management as one of the study areas. Many resources need to be directed towards programs aimed at managing the environment.
The discussion paper provides a proper insight on various measures that can be applied to help in management of environment in order to sustain agriculture. Firstly, it is recommended that policies and regulatory measures be put in place to protect the agro-ecosystem.
These measures should ensure that poor industrial and farming practices that harm the agro-ecosystem are altered and new practices adopted. Farming practices like excessive use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides are some of the practices that can be altered. Alternative practices are indeed practical and can be adopted at minimal costs. Adopting cultural practices in agriculture is one such solution. For instance, the use of synthetic fertilizers needs to be reduced and replaced by organic fertilizers that are easily biodegradable.
Another recommendation is to incorporate the concept in the educational institution in order to improve the people’s understanding of the environment management procedures. It can also be provided through informal education to the members of the society.
The incorporation of this concept in the curriculum will improve people’s understanding of the relationship between agriculture and ecology. It is also necessary that the government and other agencies provide support to the research institutions to enable effective research work in the filed.
Heaps, Toby. “The Killer Kernel.” The 2010 Green Wards report, Iss.33. 2010. Web.
Lichtenberg, Eric. “Agriculture and the environment.” Handbook of Agricultural Economics. University of Maryland. 2000. Web.
Patel, Raj, Holt-Gimenez, Eric and Shattuck, Annie. “Ending Africa’s Hunger.” The Nation. September 2, 2009. Web.
Pollan, Michael. “Unhappy Meals.” The New York Times Magazine. January 28, 2007. Web.
“Sustain Ontario.” Member directory. 2011. Web.