Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Damage to fragile environments: farming in East Anglia

Causes and effects of the damage

Causes: changes in farming methods Effects
  • Soil compaction by heavy machinery reduces infiltration and increases surface runoff and soil erosion
Large-scale agribusinesses
  • Large scale farms or agribusinesses are more efficient
  • Agribusinesses are intensive with monocropping involving high inputs of machinery, fertilisers and pesticides
  • Removal of hedgerows and woodland, drainage of wetlands to create large field sizes
  • Increase in soil erosion
  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Not sustainable
Increased field size
  • Equipment can be used more efficently
  • Removal of woodland and hedgerows
  • Wetlands drained
  • Loss of habitats and biodiversity
  • Increase in pests
  • Increase in use of pesticides
  • Increase in soil erosion
  • Not sustainable
Increased use of chemical fertilisers
  • Improves farm yields
  • Causes eutrophication of water courses
  • Can breakup the soil structure and lead to soil erosion
  • Nitrates pollute the water supply, and can be harmful to human health - e.g. blue baby syndrome
  • Not sustainable
Increased use of chemical pesticides
  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Not sustainable
  • More efficient use of machinery
  • Exhausts the soil nutrients and destroys the soil structure
  • Requires chemical fertilisers in increasing quantities and is not sustainable
Burning of straw
  • Declining air quality