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With reference to named areas explain how farming in both LEDC's and MEDC's can have a negative impact on soils What techniques can be used to improve soil quality?

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Introduction

With reference to named areas explain how farming in both LEDC's and MEDC's can have a negative impact on soils. What techniques can be used to improve soil quality? Soils are a vital resource to humans as without them there would be no means to feed the world's growing population. However, the global demographic changes are putting increasing pressure on farmers to grow more and in response to this, more land is being used for farming and the methods used to farm the land are not always beneficial to the soil in the long term. Agricultural activities are the one of the main causes of soil degradation. In both the MEDW and LEDW farming techniques have changed. In Britain, the most drastic change was in the 18th century when the Agricultural Revolution saw the manorial system and open field cultivation in strips replaced. Instead, large scale farming in consolidated units was introduced, along with the extension of arable farming, intensive livestock farming and new agricultural techniques such as crop rotation as well as new crops such as potatoes and improved grasses. The aim of these changes was to increase agricultural production and over the following years more technological advances allowed output to be increased and higher yields to be achieved. In the LEDW change is relatively slow to happen as a result of the slow development of a country and a lack of money to effect the changes. ...read more.

Middle

To rectify this farmers add more fertilizers to the soil that only adds to the negative impact farming has on soils. Generally in these areas the farmers remove trees and hedgerows to maximize the land they can farm and also so they can have easy access for their large machinery. These hedgerows and trees help hold the soil together and their removal leads to soil erosion. In the LEDW, irrigation has been important in increasing yields. Along the Senegal River two new dams were completed and filled by 1991, with one of its intentions being to irrigate the land and increase productivity. It has increased some yields but it has resulted in a loss of biodiversity and a loss of pastureland, which is important to soil structure. Soil erosion is a natural process and cannot be prevented but humans are adding to the amount of soil eroded. In China, India, Russia and the USA the losses total an estimated 13.6 billion tonnes per year. Reasons for this include deforestation and leaving the land fallow between crops. However, ploughing the soil in certain ways also increases soil erosion. By ploughing up and down the hillside creating gullies it channels the water and encourages it to erode downwards. It also loosens the surface particles and harms the soil structure. These factors can eventually lead to infertile soil. ...read more.

Conclusion

One such area is the Sahel in North Africa, on the southern edge of the Sahara desert. It is thought to be mainly a result of rapid population growth, which has led to an increased pressure on the land. Some farmers have been forced to cultivate marginal areas that are more prone to erosion and others have repeatedly grown the same crop on the same piece of land thus overcultivating it and exhausting the soil. There has also been an increase in overgrazing as the drought in the region has caused nomadic tribes to stay in one area where there is water and grazed their cattle there, destroying the vegetation leaving bare soil open to erosion. The increase in population has also lead to an increase in demand for fuel that has led to greater deforestation. The exposed soil is baked dry and becomes cracked and loose so that it can be blown or washed away. Farmers have also practiced slash and burn which has made the land infertile. Around 250 000 hectares of land in the Niger alone are being lost to desertification. At the present time there are many projects that are trying to reduce desertification and improve soil quality. These are ideas such as using animal manure and crop stalks as fertilizer, terracing on steep slopes and providing windbreaks with fences or trees. Farming can cause a lot of damage to the soil but if farmers take care and look to the future farming can be done sustainably and as organic farming shows, improve the soil. ...read more.

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