Agriculture changes the environment in many ways, both locally and globally. After reading this chapter, you should understand:
- How agriculture can lead to soul erosion, the severity of the problem, what methods are available to minimize erosion, and how application of these methods has reduced soil erosion in the United States.
- How farming can deplete soil fertility and why agriculture in most cases requires the use of fertilizers.
- Why some lands are most effectively used for grazing and how overgrazing can damage land.
- What causes desertification.
- How farming creates conditions that tend to promote pest species, the importance of effective pest (including weed) control, and the problems associated with chemical pesticides.
- How alternative agricultural methods, including integrated pest management, no-till agriculture, mixed cropping, and other methods of soil conservation, can provide major environmental benefits.
- How new methods of genetic modification of crops could improve food production and benefit the environment and how these methods could create new environmental problems.