Land to feed us

Cultivating land and feeding on its products has always been an acitvity men carry out keeping into consideration climatic and environmental conditions typical of every territory. Men have slowly overcome limits set by the environment thanks to progress and modern technologies and have thus been enhancing environmental stress. Men have therefore modified landscapes to increase productivity transforming land into cultivated fields, reclaiming wetlands, terracing slopes, and converting forests into pastures. Agriculture has an impact on the environment with regards to the quantity of resources employed and substances it generates – both natural and chemical – which are released in various environmental compartments, soil, water and atmosphere. For example, to grow a cornfield, besides solar energy, also requires soil minerals and nutrients, irrigation water, and chemical fertilizers to sustain plant growth; it’s also crucial to protect corn from insects, fungi and parasites attacks, which in a natural environment occurs thanks to the presence of other animal or plant organisms feeding on these insects.
To prevent parasites from attacking and feeding on fields, though, men often intervene using powerful insecticides which are harmful for the whole environment and for humans. The introduction of these substances in the environment and the use of natural resources affect the natural balance of the environment which becomes vulnerable. The environment tries to compensate the effects determined by agricultural activity as well as the effects generated by human activity. If conditions of strong climatic change occurred, especially on a global scale, whether the latter were caused by excessive inputs generated by human activity or as a consequence of the natural development of the planet, agricultural systems would become incapable of maintaining the high levels of production required as fields rely directly on the conditions of the soul, atmosphere and water.

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