Submitted to: Sixth Edition of Forages, Volume II The Science of Grassland Agriculture
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/28/2005
Publication Date: 12/20/2006
Citation: Keeney, D., Sanderson, M.A. 2006. Forages and the environment. In: Moore, K. J., Barnes, R. F., Nelson, C. J., Collins, M. editors. Forages: The Science of Grassland Agriculture. Sixth Edition. Ames, IA: Blackwell. p. 167-176. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Intuitively, forage crops are regarded as environmentally friendly or benign. Nevertheless, as for all landscape issues, the environmental impacts are local and depend on land use as well as soil and ecosystem stability. A well managed forage or grassland can have many environmental and economic benefits, while a forage that has been poorly managed can lead to soil erosion and soil and water quality degradation, invasion of exotic species, and in arid regions, desertification. Increasingly, farmers, ranchers and other land managers must include effects on environmental quality in their management decision-making. Governmental programs often require an assessment of environmental impact and a highly urbanized society expects farmers and ranchers to protect the environment. Thus, considerations of how forages affect environmental quality are highly relevant. In this chapter we will examine the roles well managed forages and grasslands can contribute to the overall positive quality of the environment, including the water, air, soil, wildlife, aesthetics, biodiversity and scenic beauty.