The year 2020 began with environmental crisis revealing itself in a disturbing manner. Wildfires ravaged tropical rainforests as if they were arid, savannah and the Australian bushfires. Cyclones and floods washed away trees and buildings. Now, locust attacks across Africa and India and the coronavirus pandemic — all these calamities act as a reminder that human health is linked to the planet’s health.
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This year the theme of World Environment Day 2020 is “Celebrate Biodiversity”. “With 1 million species facing extinction, there has never been a more important time to focus on biodiversity.”
Biodiversity means biological diversity among living organisms from all sources including, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. It is the multitude of living things that make up life on Earth. It cover the about 8 million species on the planet and the ecosystems that house them such as oceans, forests, mountain environments and coral reefs.
But, we are losing biodiversity, as species are getting extinct at a rate 1,000 times greater than at any other time in recorded human history.
Biodiversity supplies multiple ecosystem services to agriculture. It is the basis of agriculture and our food systems. Agricultural biodiversity provide services such as soil and water conservation, maintenance of soil fertility, conservation of biota and pollination of plants, all of which are essential for food production and for human survival. In last several decades agriculture has been oriented towards industrial and extremely intensive farming practices, aimed at ensuring enough food for the human population, a goal that was not achieved. These types of farming practices also caused several negative environmental impacts such as decreasing biodiversity, including the farm bird index.
The way that farmers grow crops and raise animals can be either good or bad for biodiversity. On one hand, farmers can support biodiversity through careful farming methods. On the other hand, if farmers are not careful, the environment and organisms on and near the farm can be harmed. Agricultural activities such as tillage, drainage, inter cropping, rotation, grazing and extensive usage of pesticides and fertilizers have significant impact on wild species of flora and fauna.
There are several agricultural practices that farmers use to promote biodiversity. Conservation tillage minimise the soil disturbance. It helps to turn over the residue from the previous crop, provide loose soil to make it easier for seeds to take root, and disturb weed growth. Farmers can plant the cover crops in between the harvest of one cash crop and the planting of another. In the United States, some farmers receive payments from the government to enroll a portion of their land in the Conservation Reserve Program, which encourages farmers to “remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality.” This land also serves as habitat for wildlife and can improve water quality. This type of practice should also be adopted by developing countries like India.
Many farmer and environmental groups should get connect to learn from each other on best practices to improve soil health, water quality, and air quality.
Agro-ecosystem analysis (AESA) based Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a new approach where, extension functionaries and farmers analyzes the field situations with regards to pests, defenders, soil conditions, plant health and the influence of climatic factors and their relationship, for growing a healthy crop.
In this pandamic situation, modern digitalized world also helping to a great extent. Several fertilizers and Seed companies are reaching farmers through digital platforms such as WhatsApp, Zoom, and Microsoft Team to connect and educate the farmers about environmental friendly agriculture practices including organic farming and also to promote and sell their products.
Snapshots from Google Images.
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Profession:- Assistant Technology Manager ( ATMA )
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