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Balance of Food Production and Conservation

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Introduction

Balance of Food Production and Conservation Conservation aims to maintain biological diversity for the benefit of mankind. It involves formulating policies and regulations to protect and maintain populations of wild plants and animals, identifying and preserving habitats in which wildlife can flourish, controlling pollution of the environment and setting up agencies to promote and monitor conservation strategies. However, due to many human activities biodiversity is reducing. Changes in land use, (in agriculture, road building and building of homes) which destroy or fragment habitats, tourism, commercial uses of particular species and pollution are all reducing biodiversity. As human populations increase, these effects increase. The huge increases in human population over the last few hundred years has been possible due to the development of intensive farming, including monoculture, selective breeding, huge farms, mechanisation. However, it is apparent that this intensive farming is damaging the environment and is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain. Monoculture has a major impact on the environment as it involves using a single variety of a crop, and this reduces genetic diversity and renders all crops in a region susceptible to disease. Reduced species diversity has many knock-on effects such as allowing a pest species to get out of control, fewer plants due to the lack of pollinating insects and a loss of species that may be useful to humans. Intensive farming often uses powerful chemicals such as insecticides, rodenticides, fungicides which are used to fight pests and diseases and also unwanted weeds are killed by applying herbicides. ...read more.

Middle

They are totally different to pesticides. As they are really just a source of nutrients they do not normally have any negative effects on plants and animals. However some plants can utilise the extra nutrients more effectively than others and therefore out compete the other plants. In this way fertilisers can be responsible for a reduction in species diversity Inorganic fertilisers are very effective but also have undesirable effects on the environment. Since nitrate and ammonium ions are very soluble, they do not remain in the soil for long and are quickly leached out, ending up in local rivers and lakes and causing eutrophication. They are also expensive. An alternative solution, which does less harm to the environment, is the use of organic fertilisers, such as animal manure (farmyard manure or FYM), composted vegetable matter, crop residues, and sewage sludge. These contain the main elements found in inorganic fertilisers (NPK), but in organic compounds such as urea, cellulose, lipids and organic acids. Of course plants cannot make use of these organic materials in the soil: their roots can only take up inorganic mineral ions such as nitrate, phosphate and potassium. But the organic compounds can be digested by soil organisms such as animals, fungi and bacteria, who then release inorganic ions that the plants can use. There are many advantages of organic fertilisers such as; Since the compounds in organic fertilisers are less soluble than those in inorganic fertilisers, the inorganic minerals are released more slowly as they are decomposed. This prevents leaching and means they last longer. ...read more.

Conclusion

But also there are some practical arguments for maintaining biodiversity. For example, there is evidence that a reduction in biodiversity may reduce climatic stability. Loss in biodiversity in ecosystems may result in drought or flooding in particular areas. Loss of genetic diversity in populations may result in their extinction. Species that we don't know very much about could be very useful to humans. Food production is uneven because some parts of the world have a climate more suited to growing crops than others. In countries where crops can be grown, farmers are usually efficient, making use of the latest agricultural techniques. Many of the developing countries cannot finance modern methods of crop production. Crops sometimes fail to climatic reasons such as drought. In other instances crops have been grown only to be eaten by pests such as locusts or ravaged by diseases. For these reasons most people in developed countries are well fed where as malnutrition and starvation are common in the third world. There must be a balance between food production and food production as the human population is continuously increasing more land is becoming intensively cultivated for food. More and more plants and animals are threatened by reduction in umbers or possible extinction because their natural habitats vanish. It is now estimated that about 25000 different plant species are threatened with extinction. Many ecologists now realise that conservation is essential for the continued survival of the human race. ...read more.

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A good overview of some of the key issues associated with intensive food production. A few more specific examples would have been useful.

Marked by teacher Adam Roberts 16/07/2013

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