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Suggested Citation:"Problem Areas." National Research Council. 1993. Soil and Water Quality: An Agenda for Agriculture. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2132.
Page 8

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 8 and energy of runoff need to be created. Existing buffer zones need to be protected in such regions to prevent soil degradation and water pollution. New and existing buffer zones need to be connected across fields and farm boundaries. Buffer zones can include natural riparian corridor vegetation (vegetation along waterways); simple, but strategically placed, grass strips; or sophisticated artificial wetlands. Federal, state, and local government programs to protect existing riparian vegetation, whether bordering major streams or small tributaries, lakes, or wetlands, should be promoted. The creation or protection of field or landscape buffer zones, however, should augment efforts to improve farming systems. They should not be substitutes for such efforts. (See Chapter 12 for a discussion of buffer zones.) IMPLEMENTING THE AGENDA A range of technical opportunities to improve the management of farming systems exist. In many cases, better use of available technologies, understanding, and information would result in immediate gains in preventing soil degradation and water pollution; many producers have already made substantial improvements in their farming systems. There are, however, important obstacles to achieving more widespread use of the new technologies and management methods needed to prevent soil degradation and water pollution. Substantial changes must occur in the way current programs are implemented before it will be possible to take advantage of the technical opportunities to improve farming systems (see Chapter 3). Problem Areas, Problem Farms The committee strongly emphasizes the importance of targeting—that is, attempting to direct technical assistance, educational effort, financial resources, or regulations at those regions where soil degradation and water pollution are most severe. It is also important to target those farm enterprises that cause a disproportionate amount of soil and water quality problems. The inability or unwillingness to target policies, whether voluntary or nonvoluntary, at problem areas and problem farms is a major obstacle to preventing soil degradation and water pollution. Problem Areas The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Congress

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Soil and Water Quality: An Agenda for Agriculture Get This Book
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How can the United States meet demands for agricultural production while solving the broader range of environmental problems attributed to farming practices? National policymakers who try to answer this question confront difficult trade-offs.

This book offers four specific strategies that can serve as the basis for a national policy to protect soil and water quality while maintaining U.S. agricultural productivity and competitiveness. Timely and comprehensive, the volume has important implications for the Clean Air Act and the 1995 farm bill.

Advocating a systems approach, the committee recommends specific farm practices and new approaches to prevention of soil degradation and water pollution for environmental agencies.

The volume details methods of evaluating soil management systems and offers a wealth of information on improved management of nitrogen, phosphorus, manure, pesticides, sediments, salt, and trace elements. Landscape analysis of nonpoint source pollution is also detailed.

Drawing together research findings, survey results, and case examples, the volume will be of interest to federal, state, and local policymakers; state and local environmental and agricultural officials and other environmental and agricultural specialists; scientists involved in soil and water issues; researchers; and agricultural producers.

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