Agriculture and Shifting Cultivation – complete detail. Impacts of Agriculture and Shifting Cultivation on nature and natural resources. The introduction of monocropping and the use of relatively few plants for food and other uses – at the expense of the wide variety of plants and animals utilized by earlier…………
People planted a variety of crops in different areas, in the hope of obtaining a reasonably stable food supply. These systems could only be maintained at low population levels, and were relatively nondestructive.
Agriculture and Shifting Cultivation. The dramatic increase in the number of humans during the twentieth century has instigated a concomitant growth in agriculture, and has led to conversion of wild lands to croplands, massive diversions of water from lakes, rivers and underground aquifers, and at the same time, has polluted water and land resources with pesticides, fertilizers, and animal wastes. The result has been the destruction, disturbance or disabling of ecosystems, and polluted, oxygen-depleted and atrophied water resources.
People planted a variety of crops in different areas, in the hope of obtaining a reasonably stable food supply. These systems could only be maintained at low population levels, and were relatively nondestructive (but not always). More recently, agriculture has in many places lost its local character, and has become incorporated into the global economy. This has led to increased pressure on agricultural land for exchange commodities and export goods. More land is being diverted from local food production to “cash crops” for export and exchange; fewer types of crops are raised, and each crop is raised in much greater quantities than before. Thus, ever more land is converted from forest (and other natural systems) for agriculture for export, rather than using land for subsistence crops.
The introduction of monocropping and the use of relatively few plants for food and other uses – at the expense of the wide variety of plants and animals utilized by earlier peoples and indigenous peoples – is responsible for a loss of diversity and genetic variability. The native plants and animals adapted to the local conditions are now being replaced with exotic species which require special inputs of food and nutrients, large quantities of water. Such exotic species frequently drive out native species. Expanding agriculture is one of the most important causes of deforestation. As demands on agricultural products rise more and more land is brought under cultivation for which forests are cleared, grass-lands ploughed, uneven grounds leveled, marshes drained and even land under water is reclaimed. However, this expansion is usually marked with more ecological destruction than rationality.
Shifting cultivation is often blamed for destruction of forests. In fact it is poor fertility of soil which has given rise to such a pattern of farming. Crops are grown as long as the soil is productive, after which the cultivation is abandoned and cultivators move on to fresh patch of land.