Which Of The Following Is An Example Of Gene Flow Agricultural Reform

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Agricultural Reform

Our current agricultural system is severely flawed due to inefficiency and unsustainable practices. Sustainable agriculture is a journey, not a destination; aims to sustain ecosystems, support biodiversity and withstand the challenges of our fragile world. This essay presents three dire problems—soil loss, water depletion, and food supply—and examines possible solutions. At present there is no fully sustainable agricultural system, but the future shows the possibility of many improvements.

Soil is the key to life on land; the right soil is the most important factor for growing crops. Therefore, soil erosion is a major obstacle for farmers around the world. Soil should be treated as a non-renewable resource; it takes at least 100 years to create one inch of soil, according to the USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service. The amount of soil that has become unusable during our lifetimes will not be compensated for many, many generations. Erosion removes the top and surface layer of soil, which often has the highest biological activity and the highest amount of organic matter in the soil. This causes a loss of nutrients and often creates a less favorable environment for plant growth. Plants need this soil for root growth, to prevent them from being blown away and washed away by time, as well as greater root depth for water, air and nutrients. Once nutrients are no longer able to support plant growth at a site, soil can accumulate in water and cause many environmental problems, such as algal blooms and lake eutrophication.

This problem is nothing new and there are many practices to prevent further erosion. The Soil Erosion Act of 1935, the first national soil conservation program, was a response to the greatest soil erosion crisis ever, the Dust Bowl. She founded the Soil Conservation Service, now USDA-NRCS, or Natural Resources Conservation Service, to help farmers and ranchers use conservation techniques on their lands. These practices include contour plowing, strip cropping, terracing, no-till farming, buffer strips, crop rotation, and cover crops or legume residues.

Due to unsustainable irrigation, grazing and cultivation practices, surface/rainwater is not sufficient to meet our agricultural needs. A major problem of water resources arose in the 1950s, with the introduction of electric pumps, which allowed the use of groundwater for irrigation. The groundwater system before development is in long-term equilibrium; the removed water is balanced by the added water, and the volume of water in the storage remains relatively constant.

While dependence on irrigation in agriculture is unlikely to disappear, there are smarter methods of irrigation and water conservation. Soil moisture testers can only be used to irrigate fields when the soil is dry, preventing water accumulation and reducing water loss. Morning/evening irrigation times and methods can be used to reduce water loss due to evaporation and use the least amount of water needed. Withdrawal from aquifers can be reduced by these methods, as well as by choosing better crops (plant less corn, use less water), reassessing which crops should be irrigated (corn and other intensive crops are not used for human consumption, but for animal feed and ethanol ), and removing subsidies for crops that use more water (higher costs for higher water consumption). Also, these crops are grown in areas that are not naturally suitable for their growth. For example, the majority of all irrigated corn acreage in the US is located in four states: Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, and Colorado. These four states have different climates and soil types. Shifting to growing crops in an area where their needs can be better met naturally will drastically reduce irrigation practices.

Flood irrigation is one of the most popular methods of crop irrigation. Water is pumped or piped to the field and allowed to flow along the soil between the crops. This method is simple and cheap, and is widely used by societies in less developed parts of the world as well as in the USA. However, it is not efficient or sustainable; approximately half of the water used does not reach the crops.

Waste water can be reduced by leveling fields; flood irrigation uses gravity to transfer water, so the water rushes into downhill areas and does not cover the field evenly. By leveling the fields, water will be able to flow evenly through the fields. It can also be reduced by wave flooding. It is a less traditional type of flood irrigation; usually the water is just released onto the field, but floods release water at predetermined intervals, effectively reducing unwanted runoff. Finally, capturing and reusing runoff will increase efficiency. A large amount of flood irrigation water is lost as it runs off the edges and back of the field. Runoff water can be captured in ponds and pumped back into the field, where it is reused for the next irrigation cycle.

Drip irrigation is known as the most efficient method of irrigation. Water droplets drip right next to the plant’s root area. This requires extensive piping to ensure that all plants in the garden are reached by irrigation, but results in less water wastage. The system can be programmed to run on a timer, manually operated or programmed to respond to current conditions. If the system is installed correctly, you can steadily reduce water loss through evaporation and runoff, as well as reduce weed growth. Drip irrigation also reduces soil nutrient loss, reduces leaching into groundwater and local waterways, and reduces water loss through evaporation. Soil damage caused by sprinklers and other types of irrigation is also reduced.

These problems are exacerbated by our current cultivation system; many crops are grown in unsuitable regions and require synthetic fertilizers, irrigation and pesticides. An attempt to grow more efficient and environmentally friendly crops are GMO crops. These genetically modified crops were contested in a class debate and were favored by a minority of students. While the current system presents many problems, its future potential cannot be ignored. My classmates were against the technology for a multitude of reasons, including a mental and aesthetic preference for organic/natural foods, a lack of knowledge about the toxicological effects of GMO foods. They also criticized agricultural companies for chasing profits without concern for potential dangers, and the government for failing to provide adequate regulatory oversight.

Tolerance to extreme drought, cold and salinity is perhaps one of the most important modifications for the future of agriculture. As the world’s population grows and the need for new agricultural land increases, crops will have to be grown in places that were previously unsuitable for growing plants. Creating plants that can withstand long periods of freezing, drought, or high salt content in soil and groundwater will help people grow crops in previously inhospitable places. For example, GM salmon, infused with genes from other fish species, grow faster than wild salmon and can survive colder water, allowing the salmon to thrive in new environments. However, it is currently not on the market. Another off-market modification is the antifreeze gene. An unexpected frost can destroy sensitive seedlings and the entire harvest. The antifreeze gene from cold-water fish has been introduced into plants such as tobacco and potatoes. With this antifreeze gene, these plants can tolerate low temperatures that would otherwise kill unmodified seedlings. This technology will allow these plants to grow at lower temperatures where they would not normally germinate.

Traditionally, American agriculture has been characterized by inefficiency and waste. Soils are massively depleted and fields are parched, aquifers are depleted and water is wasted or evaporated, and food production is under pressure to meet the demands of a growing global population. Fortunately, the situation is not as dire as it seems; there are many conservation techniques to revitalize the soil, new technology will help protect our limited water resources, and human ingenuity is being applied to food production. It is clear that we are on the way to a more modern, sustainable and efficient agricultural system.

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