Agriculture is undoubtedly the backbone of the New Zealand economy, with the country being among the top producers of dairy products, beef and other types of crops. Agriculture is the process of producing feeds, food and the rearing of domesticated animals, which are commonly referred to as livestock. Agricultural activities are mostly carried out by humans or machines on the environment, with some activities leading to the change of the landscape, and having an impact on the environment. Environmental impacts brought about by farming can be categorised into two types; effect based, which can be explained as the effects of the farming methods on the environment or the farming system through factors such as emissions, and secondly, means-based, which is entirely based on the methods used by the farmers in production.
Some of the environmental impacts arising as a result of agricultural activities may be related to the water used in the farming activity, soil variety, air, people or the crops planted. This article will focus on some of the environmental impacts brought about by agricultural activities in New Zealand.
- Changing Landscape
Farming is one of the leading human influences on land in New Zealand, with the country having over 70000 farms, covering almost half of the country’s area. Depending on the type of farming, there is a need to change the aspect of the landscape, to support different kinds of crops and livestock. This, in turn, has led to some adjustments to the topographical character of the landscape.
- Climate Change
Agriculture and climate change are two interrelated processes with global warming being a primary concern, as it is tipped to have a significant effect on temperature, glacial runoff and precipitation. These factors will, in turn, have an impact on the type of crops to be grown or the livestock farmers can rear. Greenhouse gasses and the rise in carbon dioxide also have a significant effect on the environment.