Environmental impacts of European agriculture: Issues and policy options in the cereals sector.
Arable farming is one of the oldest and most widespread forms of land use in Europe and supports a uniquely adapted and diverse fauna and flora. However, since the 1960s, concern has developed over the environmental impacts of arable farming, including impacts on wildlife and on the sustainability of arable systems themselves. With the widespread intensification of arable farming, environmental consequences have become apparent throughout the EU. Such environmental impacts include damage to, and removal of soil, thereby threatening agricultural sustainability, and the pollution of water sources which provide drinking water for a growing human population. Modem arable systems also impact upon biodiversity within the system itself, and in associated non-cropped habitats such as grassland, field boundaries and watercourses. The deterioration in arable ecosystems is also reflected in the aesthetic quality of the arable landscape. Many of these costs to the community are externalised and, for the UK, have been estimated at ?3.7 billion per year (?330/ha/yr; Pretty et al., in press).
The environmental impacts of cereals-based arable systems are summarised below under the headings of soil, water, biodiversity, landscape and air, drawing on the much more detailed treatment given by Boatman et al., (1999).