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Monday, September 1, 2014

Good Agricultural Practices for Selected Agricultural Components

Soil
 1) The physical and chemical properties and functions, organic matter and biological activity of the soil are fundamental to sustaining agricultural production and determine, in their complexity, soil fertility and productivity. Appropriate soil management aims to maintain and improve soil productivity by improving the availability and plant uptake of water and nutrients through enhancing soil biological activity, replenishing soil organic matter and soil moisture, and minimizing losses of soil, nutrients, and agrochemicals through erosion, runoff and leaching into surface or ground water. Though soil management is generally undertaken at field/farm level, it affects the surrounding area or catchment due to off-site impacts on runoff, sediments, nutrients movement, and mobility of livestock and associated species including predators, pests and biocontrol agents.
2) Good practices related to soil include maintaining or improving soil organic matter through the use of soil carbon-build up by appropriate crop rotations, manure application, pasture management and other land use practices, rational mechanical and/or conservation tillage practices; maintaining soil cover to provide a conducive habitat for soil biota, minimizing erosion losses by wind and/or water; and application of organic and mineral fertilizers and other agro-chemicals in amounts and timing and by methods appropriate to agronomic, environmental and human health requirements.
 Water
 3) Agriculture carries a high responsibility for the management of water resources in quantitative and qualitative terms. Careful management of water resources and efficient use of water for rain fed crop and pasture production, for irrigation where applicable, and for livestock, are criteria for GAP. Efficient irrigation technologies and management will minimize waste and will avoid excessive leaching and salinization. Water tables should be managed to prevent excessive rise or fall.
 4) Good practices related to water will include those that maximize water infiltration and minimize unproductive efflux of surface waters from watersheds; manage ground and soil water by proper use, or avoidance of drainage where required; improve soil structure and increase soil organic matter content; apply production inputs, including waste or recycled products of organic, inorganic and synthetic nature by practices that avoid contamination of water resources; adopt techniques to monitor crop and soil water status, accurately schedule irrigation, and prevent soil salinization by adopting water-saving measures and re-cycling where possible; enhance the functioning of the water cycle by establishing permanent cover, or maintaining or restoring wetlands as needed; manage water tables to prevent excessive extraction or accumulation; and provide adequate, safe, clean watering points for livestock.


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