Worldwide, agriculture is the main "user" of the countryside. This means that agricultural development has a large influence on the countryside values.
Since World War II, agriculture has been very successful in increasing production. This development has taken place mainly in the industrialized countries, but many developing countries also have had their share of success.
The increase in output can be attributed to increased output per hectare, increased output per capita, and in some countries, expansion of the cultivated area. These developments were made possible through the introduction of inputs such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides, high-yield varieties of crops, and machinery; management systems such as irrigation and dry farming; and planning systems such as land realotment.
But this is not the end of the story. The increased output has put great pressure on the countryside values and thus on our natural environment. In many areas in the world, natural processes have been seriously disturbed and unrenewable resources used up. The following list gives an impression of the damage done:
• soil nutrient mining,
• salinization of soils (waterlogging),
• water contamination,
• habitat fragmentation.
To achieve more sustainable agricultural development, good management of the countryside values is necessary.
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