Conventional agriculture has damaging practices for environment such as harvest’s rests burning and plough, which is carried out in order to control weeds and seedbed preparation. Those techniques increase undoubtedly erosion and soil compacting, as well as contaminating superficial waters with sediments, fertilizers and pesticides. Furthermore, content in organic material and soil’s fertility are decreased, and CO2 emission to the atmosphere is increased, contributing this way to planet global warming, along other serious effects (for instance, biodiversity decrease).
Agricultural soil’s degradation due to the processes of erosion and compacting is possibly the main environmental problem caused by conventional agriculture. Conventional agriculture intensification (mechanization and tillage) in the last fifty years has contributed to a great extent to aggravate the risk of desertification of the most vulnerable areas. Agricultural soil’s erosion has a considerable negative economic incidence on agricultural production and on infrastructures/ public works next to the agricultural areas affected (landslide in roads, among others).
Conventional agriculture practices contribute to superficial water quality deterioration. Agricultural eroded soil’s sediments which are transported through hillside waters are the most important contaminant between them. Besides, due to cutting’s burning and intensive tillage, extra CO2 emissions to the atmosphere are produced and the capacity to store carbon in soil is reduced. This is translated into a reduction of its organic material and on the other hand on an increase of Earth global warming.
Biodiversity is reduced considerably in conventional agriculture since in it soil keeps naked during long periods of time, supplying no food or shelter to a big part of the fauna in critical periods in their development.
To sum up, conventional agriculture entails a minor economic profitability as soil works require big investments on acquisition and maintenance of agricultural machines, fuel and labour.