Agricultural practices and environmental conservation
Land used for agriculture makes up one of the largest environmental units managed in Canada today. New technology and genetic improvements to plants and animals have increased farm productivity dramatically over the past three decades. Land management is the main factor that often determines whether the environmental effects of agriculture are positive or negative. Little attention has been paid to the possible environmental consequences of many newly developed, intensified farming activities. Land deterioration and the resulting environmental problems may be difficult to recognize on individual farms because the processes involved are so widely distributed and insidious. When problems are recognized, many people are unaware that anything can be done to rectify them. The agricultural community should take precautions to protect the environment from any degradation arising from its activities. Farmers should act on their own behalf and develop an understanding of the impact that various farming practices can have on the environment. This publication is intended as an introduction to the subject, and readers are encouraged to seek more detailed information related to their own situations from regional specialists. Some agricultural practices can cause water and air pollution and the deterioration of the land. Of these three problems, by far the most well documented is how agriculture can affect water quality. Water pollution is therefore dealt with here in more detail than are the other two topics.