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AGRICULTURE REPORT - Simple Ways to Protect Water Quality

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I'm Barbara Klein with the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Afghans wash carrots in dirty river water in Kabul in 2002
Afghans wash carrots in dirty river water in Kabul in 2002

Farmers are the biggest users of freshwater resources. The Food and Agriculture Organization says agriculture uses seventy percent of all surface water supplies. That is the world average. Without the right measures, agriculture can be a major cause of water pollution.

But solutions do not have to cost much. There are simple methods for farms of any size to reduce or prevent pollution of water supplies. We are going to talk about a few of them.

The first deals with fertilizers and poisons. One way such chemicals can enter the environment is when they are not stored correctly. Stored chemicals can slowly leak into the soil and get into groundwater. To help avoid such problems, chemicals should be kept in structures with a floor made of cement.

Farm animals can also pollute water supplies. Animals like cattle, pigs, sheep and goats are often left to feed on grass in open fields bordered by streams or rivers.

Large animals loosen dirt and rocks as they walk along waterways to drink. Animal waste also enters water supplies. Experts say it is important to keep large farm animals away from water supplies with the use of a fence or barrier.

Instead of leading animals to water, bring the water to them. It does not have to be transported long distances. Farmers can send water through pipes to a watering area for their animals with a pump powered by electricity or fuel. Human-powered treadle pumps are another solution.

Trees, bushes and smaller plants can act as natural barriers along streams and rivers. Bushes provide excellent ground cover when grown near waterways or along the borders of fields. Animals avoid bushes with sharp thorns.

Tree roots provide natural support for soil. Trees planted near waterways help stop soil loss from heavy rains. They also help keep the sun from drying out soil. Other plants and grasses also help protect water quality. They hold soil in place during rains and ease the water flow.

These methods will not solve all water quality problems. But they are good first steps.

This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Mario Ritter. Our reports are on the Web at www.unsv.com. You can even learn how to make a treadle pump. Just enter the word treadle, t-r-e-a-d-l-e, in the search box. I'm Barbara Klein.

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