|Environmental Handbook Volume II: Agriculture, Mining/Energy, Trade/Industry (GTZ, 1995, 736 p.)|
|27. Plant production|
Plant production always has impacts on the environment, either directly or through its links with other areas. By virtue of its objectives and impacts it has particularly close links with the following areas featured in farming systems:
- Plant protection
- Livestock farming
- Agricultural engineering
The objectives pursued in these sectors (see relevant environmental briefs) may be compatible with those of plant production, have no bearing on them or conflict with them. In the same way, impacts of plant production may be increased, reduced or offset by measures in these areas. When assessments are being carried out, attention must be paid to the possibility that impacts generated by activities in different areas could have a cumulative effect and thereby increase the amount of damage done. Such processes can be regulated with the aid of research and advisory work, backed up by instruments in fields such as legislation, poverty alleviation, self-help and advancement of women.
If plant production is on a scale extending beyond subsistence level, it also has links with agroindustry. Sinking of wells as part of schemes to provide rural water supplies can accelerate the desertification process, which has disastrous consequences for plant production.
As many countries require an increasing amount of land for settlement, transport systems, trade and industry and sometimes have to meet this need by developing areas formerly used for plant production, conflicts inevitably arise (spatial and regional planning, location planning, transport and traffic, large-scale hydraulic engineering). Although improvement of the transport system facilitates access to inputs (fertilisers, workshops) and sale of produce, land development within natural ecosystems can accelerate the destruction of such systems. The need for erosion control measures generally arises as a result of erosion caused by forms of cropping inappropriate to the site concerned. The availability of renewable energy sources and compostable domestic waste can also be of importance for plant production.