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Evolution and InnovationSave Biodiversity...Rise

Agriculture and Environment

OVER VIEW.......EIN......27/06/2010

April 22, 2010 marks Earth Day, a day to reflect and appreciate the Earth’s environment. This day we recognize farmers, the original environmentalists. Farmers care for the land and strive to leave the land better for the next generation. Over the years farmers have adapted new technologies and agricultural practices that are more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Agriculture and the Environment
Conservation tillage -- or no-till -- is an environmentally friendly practice that has been increasing in use on U.S. farms over the years.
In no-till systems, farmers plant the new crop in the previous year’s plant residue, leaving the soil undisturbed. Potential benefits of no-till are reduced soil erosion, more nutrient-enriched soil, and reduced consumption of fuel to operate equipment, among others. Some studies suggest the increase in no-till systems is due to increased use of herbicide-tolerant crops.

Since 1997, the use of pesticides has been reduced by 359 million kg of active ingredient (ai). This is often attributed to the fact insect-resistant plants may require little to no applications of pesticides. Application rates vary by region, but globally rates have been reduced.

Reduced fuel use
from less frequent applications of pesticides and no-till farming associated with the use of biotechnology are believed to have led to significant reductions in greenhouse gasses (GHG).

The researchers calculated emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, converting the amounts of the latter two gases into the quantities of carbon dioxide that would have an equivalent impact on the atmosphere, to facilitate comparison of total greenhouse gas outputs.
Burney, a postdoctoral researcher with the Program on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford, said agriculture currently accounts for about 12 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Although greenhouse gas emissions from the production and use of fertilizer have increased with agricultural intensification, those emissions are far outstripped by the emissions that would have been generated in converting additional forest and grassland to farmland.
"Every time forest or shrub land is cleared for farming, the carbon that was tied up in the biomass is released and rapidly makes its way into the atmosphere - usually by being burned," she said. "Yield intensification has lessened the pressure to clear land and reduced emissions by up to 13 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year."
"When we look at the costs of the research and development that went into these improvements, we find that funding agricultural research ranks among the cheapest ways to prevent greenhouse gas emissions," said Steven Davis, a co-author of the paper and a postdoctoral researcher at the Carnegie Institution at Stanford.
To evaluate the impact of yield intensification on climate change, the researchers compared actual agricultural production between 1961 and 2005 with hypothetical scenarios in which the world's increasing food needs were met by expanding the amount of farmland rather than by the boost in yields produced by the Green Revolution.
"Even without higher yields, population and food demand would likely have climbed to levels close to what they are today," said David Lobell, also a coauthor and assistant professor of environmental Earth system science at Stanford.
"Lower yields per acre would likely have meant more starvation and death, but the population would still have increased because of much higher birth rates," he said. "People tend to have more children when survival of those children is less certain."

Third World Countries must follow and understand the longterm impacto. India and China in particular needs to be more vigilant, since both are projected global future polluters. Blueprints and case studies along with roadmap are already ignited, need of hour is to give maximum thrust for these subjects with clear vision and mission. 
Crux : Biotechnolgy is the answer to majority of complex problems created by humans in last century.



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