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Flashcards in Environment and economics Deck (26)
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What areas of the environment are impacted by farming?

- Green-house gas production
- Nitrates
- Water quality
- Land use
- Soil compaction


Outline the effects of farming on soil structure

- Soil compaction and erosion, esp dairy and pig
- Reduced water infiltration
- Increased water run off and flood risk
- Effects of producing feed crops e.g. maize


Outline the effects of farming on soil contamination

- Agricultural chemicals, fertilisers, disinfectants
- Veterinary medicines
- Heavy metals from feed concentrates (Zn, Cu)
- Pathogens (faecal indicator organisms e.g. E coli, viruses, Cryptosporidium)


Outline the effects of farming on soil biodiversity and ecology

- Avermectins affect invertebrates (stay in soil for >180 days), consequently affecting animals that feed on invertebrates
- Antibiotics and anthelmintics
- Survival of animals in compacted soil


Outline the effects of farming waste disposal on the soil

80% of NH3 is from agriculture, mainly manure and urea based fertiliser


Outline the effects of slurry applied to land

- Nutrient recycling, positive effect
- But excess washed into water courses, causing harm through eutrophication and algal blooms


Describe eutrophication in riparian and terrestrial ecosystems

- Blooms of phytoplankton and zooplankton
- depletion of dissolved oxygen
- Release of toxins
- Reduced biodiversity
- Decreased perception of aesthetic value of water body


Outline the processing options for agricultural waste

- Spread on land
- Dumping at sea no longer allowed
- Landfill is expensive
- Incineration produces pollution and requires energy


What are the effects of farming on water?

- Contamination
- Consumption
- Flooding
- Leaching of nitrates and phosphates


Outline the consumption of water in farming

- 70% of all withdrawn freshwater used for farming
- Large part of feed crop production is irrigated
- Traditional irrigation systems waste up to 50% of water by evaporation
- Inexpensive so no incentive to use efficiently


Outline the nitrates directive

- EU directive to reduce water pollution from agriculture
- All land draining to waters affected by nitrate pollution placed in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs)
- Requires framers to: plan and record application of nitrogen to each field, not exceed nitrogen loading limit per year, calculate amount of N and P produced by livestock, produce risk map of the farm, produce risk assessment for the application of nitrogen


Outline the main uses of energy in farming

- Fertiliser production
- Machinery
- Loss of non-renewables
- Modern agriculture heavily dependent on fossil fuels
- Deforestation to make room for arable land


Outline the impact of farming on biodiversity

- Loss of biodiversity and species
- Landscape degradation


Outline how agriculture causes a loss of biodiversity

- Clearing of land for agriculture
- Soil com-action
- Degrading habitats by pollution
- Contributing to climate change
- Selective breeding in livestock
- Monocultures of plants


What are the risks associated with loss of biodiversity?

- Monocultures can increase susceptibility to pests and distort ecosystems
- Extinction of species removes plants and animals potentially beneficial to humans
- Imbalance of ecosystem can allow/encourage new pathogens to emerge


Outline the impact of farming on the air

- Contributes 18% of greenhouse gases
- CO2, N2O, NH3
- Nitrous oxide mainly indirect from fertilisers (denitrification to N2O0
- 1/5th of all greenhouse gases come from agriculture


Explain the link between welfare and economics

- Animal welfare seen as a "public good" i.e. a product that can be consumed freely at no cost to you, and in unlimited supply
- Animal suffering is a "negative externality" of livestock production, negative impact on perception of industry and income


How can welfare go from "natural" welfare to "maximal" welfare?What are the economic consequences?

- Improve welfare, improve productivity
- e.g. provision of shelter, protection from predators, better nutrition, better housing


How can welfare go from "maximal" welfare to "desired/appropriate" welfare? What are the economic consequences?

- Increased productivity, but may decrease welfare
- E.g. intensification, pharmaceutical intervention, genetic selection


How can welfare go from "desired/appropriate" welfare to "minimal" welfare? What are the economic consequences?

- Dramatically increase productivity, but very negative impact on welfare
- E.g. genetic engineering, further intensification (vertical farming), controlled environment and nutrition, growth promoters, gut microbiota manipulation


What is the "iron triangle" concept in welfare and economics?

- Consists of welfare, environment and economic benefit
- Where improve 2, the other will decrease
- E.g. good welfare and low environmental impact will be expensive


Outline the Government Procurement Policies

- Money spent on agricultural products for government departments
- Pay more for higher welfare products


Outline tools for conflict resolution regarding the environment and farming

- Whole farm carbon footprinting
- Main categories: feed, bedding, enteric fermentation, manure management, fuel and energy use, fertiliser manufacture etc.
- Assign environmental damage cost to each activity e.g. artificial fertiliser
- Modelling of individual factors
- More challenging to build holistic model and impractical for wider use


Outline the role of vets in the management of environmental impacts from farming

- Leadership roles i.e. cross species diseases, animal production systems, population medicine, formulation of comprehensive farm policy
- Active health planning (rare)
- Reduction in medication use where environment and welfare are improveed


Outline some measure that can be used to minimise the environmental impact of farming

- Slurry injection, crusting/covering of slurry storage areas, fuel efficient tractors, anaerobic digestion of cattle and pig slurry, use CH4 as energy source
- Dietary manipulation (feed cows more starch, less fibre = less methane emissions), rationing of concentrates to reduce leakage of heavy metals, nitrates and phosphates
- In dairy herds use plate coolers for milk, prevent direct access to water courses, breeding programmes to increase longevity and fertility
- For pig farming, establish vegetation before stocking with pigs and plant species pigs do not eat


Outline some of the future challenges regarding farming and the environment

- Increasing human population
- Increasing affluence and demand for meat
- Inevitable shift towards intensive farming
- Challenge to maintain good animal welfare standards in intensive farming
- Water security (1b have no secure supply)
- Global warming (affects crop yields, disease patterns, pests, predictability)