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Human Influences on the Environment

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Introduction

Human Influences on the Environment As the population of humans increases so must the cultivation of crops in order to feed them. Over the years different methods of farming have been used, many proving harmful to the environment, and changing the way the ecological system may have otherwise naturally developed. In this report my aim is to investigate the changes in farming and evaluate the effects on the environment. Before the 1950's traditional farming techniques ruled the world of farming. These farming methods used processes such as: * Crop rotation: A simple definition of crop rotation is the planting of different crops in recurring succession in the same field. Research findings support the many benefits to good crop rotation systems, such as: � Maintains good soil physical condition and organic matter � Improves distribution of plant nutrients in the soil by varying the feeding range of roots � Improves fertility with legume nitrogen and, when using green manure crops, makes other plant nutrients more available � Fosters the most effective use of manure and fertilizer � Helps control weeds, some plant diseases and insect pests: this is because the lag phase which a pest has before becoming establishes will generally not be over before the new crop is introduced, and through changing the crop the pests source of nourishment will be gone, thus dying. ...read more.

Middle

Organic fertilizers consist of organic matter such as from manure or sewage sludge. The problem with the addition of these fertilizers occurs when the nutrients added in are lost from the agricultural fields. This can happen in a number of ways such as runoff, drainage or leaching. Leaching is the process by which soluble nutrients from topsoil percolates downward to become groundwater supplying water to streams, rivers and plants. It is the nitrogen and phosphorus which causes most problems as both are highly soluble and if get into streams and rivers etc cause the excessive growth of aquatic plants and lead to eutrophication. Eutrophication: Natural eutrophication is the process by which lakes etc gradually age and become more productive. It normally takes thousands of years to progress. However, humans through various cultural activities have accelerated the process by excessive amounts plant nutrients leaching into them. The nutrients cause excessive growth of algae which block out sunlight killing off other water plants creating a gap in the food chain and killing off many species. |Eventually the algae die and their decay leads to the depletion of oxygen killing off anything else left in the water allowing the lake to become stagnant. Biochemical oxygen demand: This is a measure of how much dissolved oxygen is being consumed as microbes break down organic matter. ...read more.

Conclusion

Ways in which we can help the situation: It has become obvious that human farming and more specifically the technology associated with it has had a major effect on food chains, ecology and the environment. And as the population of humans increases it is easy to assume that the effects will heighten because there will be a higher demand for crops, leading to an increase in farming and an increase in the technology used to make it easier to produce the high yields required. But if we continue farming in the way that we have been we will end up polluting ourselves and destroying even more wildlife so it is important for new methods to be thought up and new technology to be employed. There are a number of ways in which farmers can help to decrease the amount of fertilizers and pesticides leaching into water supplies, such as: * Planting hedgerows * Biological control (introduction of natural predators to take care of pests rather than chemicals being used) * When planting crops on slopes plant woodlands as the trees will shelter the soil from the rain stopping as much water containing pesticides/fertilizers leaching. Also the roots will hold the top soil together better helping with erosion. * Use of organic fertilizer * Ploughing along contours (preventing soil erosion) * Crop rotation farming ...read more.

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