Food Production

This essay will explain about farming today, and how it affects our environment, also ways in which we can help to protect our environment, our health and animal welfare.

Farming is the production of food and other materials by raising plants and animals. Many people buy their food in supermarkets close to their homes, but the food is imported from many different countries, and many products are farmed in a number of different ways. The way food is farmed affects the environment. It also affects people’s health and the treatment of animals. Some farming methods are more harmful than others.

Over 11,000 years ago, people got all their food by gathering wild plants, hunting and also from fishing. They travelled around constantly in search for food. But then people learned how to grow plants from seeds. They learned how to raise animals, and then began to settle in one place. Now they could wait for their plants and crops to grow, and begin to harvest them when they were ripe.

Then about 250 years ago farmers in much wealthier countries started using machines. Machinery did most of the work for people, so people could make food for many more people and sell it to their community. Scientists then developed chemicals to produce more food, and developed new plants and different breeds of animals. Many more farmers now use more chemicals such as fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides to grow more crops. Fertilisers make the soil more fertile. Pesticides kill insects that harm crops and herbicides kill weeds among the crops.

Today in wealthy countries such as Britain and the USA people live in cities rely on fewer farmers in the countryside to grow their food. But many people are worried about how their food is produced, chemicals are sprayed onto the crops and they can stay on the food. They can also run into rivers and the water underground. New kinds of plants and new breads of animals may upset the natural environment. Valuable soil is also being lost or damaged. There is a lot of reduction in land and one of the causes for this is farming Farming methods, including overgrazing, incorrect farming methods and the overstocking of land, remove essential nutrients from the soil.

This results in the denudation of the land. As no vegetation is available to retain the soil, it is washed away. Soil erosion further lessens the amount of land available for natural plants and animals. As the number of people grows daily, more food is needed and more land is being utilised for farming, decreasing the amount of land used by animals and plants, especially in the case of rainforests in tropical countries. As the rainforest are destroyed to make way for more farming land. Nature, insect and vegetation. In other countries hedge rows and trees are lost also killing that which resides there.

Modern farming results include:

1) The hybridisation of plant species

2) improvements from animal breeding

3) the use of fertilisers and insecticides

There are two types of insecticide found:

1) Organic: from plants and animals, e.g. manure and compost

2) inorganic: from non-living materials, e.g. rocks, minerals (these can disrupt ecosystems)

When inorganic fertilisers are dissolved in rainwater, they run off into water sources. This is called Eutrophication. Eutrophication is the over growth of algae in water ecosystems where nutrients are usually limiting. Many fresh water systems are ‘oligotrophic’, meaning that the growth of primary producers (algae) is limited not by dissolved gas or light, but by nutrients such as nitrates and minerals. The organisms in these environments have evolved to be optimally suited to these conditions, and everything works fairly well.

But when someone builds something next to a lake (e.g. golf course), and the fertilizer being used on the grass runs off into the lake, the algae grows too fast for the rest of the ecosystem to keep up, and overgrows the lake, killing everything in it. That’s one example, there are many other the solutions generally involve not washing lots of nutrients into lakes and streams (or the ocean, which, although generally full of nutrients, can also be locally overwhelmed with runoff, especially in coral reef environments).

Farmers use pesticides and insecticides to kill organisms that damage their crops.

The following methods are used:

1) Chemical: a poison is introduced, e.g. herbicides and DDT

2) biological: a natural predator is introduced, e.g. snakes to kill rats

3) mechanical: people and machines are used, e.g. rat traps

Side effects of these methods can include:

1) The death of animals that are not pests

2) DDT entering and moving up the food chain

DDT is an effective but dangerous pesticide. Below is a diagram to show how DDT is moved up the food chain.

Farming produces much pollution, mainly water pollution through chemicals, and air pollution through machinery used in the farming process, the consequences of fumes being given off lead to, the green house effect which leads to global warming. Detrimental effects on human health and vegetation. This also causes acid rain. Water pollution was mentioned earlier. And how the chemicals being used travel through the lakes and rivers. This disrupts our ecosystems. So now you basically know what effects food production has on our environment, so how can we prevent this from happening? Well for a start we could all begin to eat more organic foods. Organic agriculture bars the use of synthetic pesticides and artificial fertilizers, and instead relies on ecological interactions to raise yields, reduce pests and build soil fertility.

Diverse planting patterns, frequent rotations and attraction of beneficial insects, for instance, would all be organic means of pest control. Organic meat and dairy farming is the raising of animals without hormones, antibiotics or other artificial chemicals; it also includes using organic feed and allowing animals sufficient range of movement and sunlight. Genetic engineering of plants and animals is not considered organic. Organic farming is definitely a way forward. Lets hope in the future more people see it this way.

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