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Washington, D. You are here. A key challenge for the agriculture sector is to feed an increasing global population, while at the same time reducing the environmental impact and preserving natural resources for future generations.
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Agriculture can have significant impacts on the environment. While negative impacts are serious, and can include pollution and degradation of soil, water, and air, agriculture can also positively impact the environment, for instance by trapping greenhouse gases within crops and soils, or mitigating flood risks through the adoption of certain farming practices.
Agriculture and the environment
The OECD monitors the linkages between the environment and agriculture, identifies successful agricultural policies that mitigate the negative environmental impacts while enhancing the positive ones, and provides recommendations to improve policy coherence for environmental performance of the agricultural sector. In recent years, there have been some encouraging signs that the agriculture sector of OECD countries is capable of meeting its environmental challenges. In particular, farmers in many OECD countries have made improvements in the use and management of nutrients, pesticides, energy and water, using less of these inputs per unit of land.
Farmers have also made good progress in adopting more environmentally beneficial practices, such as conservation tillage, improved manure storage, or soil nutrient testing. Notwithstanding these improvements, there is still more to do, with an important role for policymakers.
To address these long-standing issues, more effort and co-operation is needed between farmers, policymakers, and the agro-food value chain. In addition, the twin policy challenge of ensuring global food security for a growing population while improving environmental performance will require raising the environmental and resource productivity of agriculture, enhancing land management practices, minimising pollution discharges, curtailing damage to biodiversity, and strengthening policies that avoid the use of production and input subsidies which tend to damage the environment.
To help countries improve the sustainability of agriculture, the OECD has developed recommendations on how to develop cost-effective agri-environmental policies , how to manage water issues for agriculture , how to deal with climate change challenges , and how to preserve biodiversity and manage ecosystem services related to agriculture. We have also developed insights on the potential environmental impact of agriculture policies by identifying possible policy mis-alignments and how to jointly address sustainability and productivity growth goals. To support this work and help governments assess whether the policies they have in place are most likely to boost productivity and minimise environmental damage, the OECD developed a set of agri-environmental indicators AEIs More specifically, the AEI database can be used to:.