Good Agricultural Practices

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Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) are specific methods when applied to agriculture create food for consumers or further processing that is safe and wholesome. While there are numerous competing conceptions of what methods constitute good agricultural practices, there are several broadly accepted schemes that producers can adhere to. Several food and agricultural organizations and authorities, use good agricultural practices as a collection of principles to apply for on-farm production and post-production processes, resulting in safe and healthy food and non-food agricultural products, taking into consideration economic, social and environmental sustainability. These practices may be applied to a wide range of farming systems at different scales.

The concept of GAP recently evolved as a result of the major concern about food safety and quality, and the environmental sustainability of agriculture. GAP offers benefits to farmers and consumers to meet specific objectives of food security, food quality, production efficiency, livelihood and environmental protection.

Demand for agricultural crops is expected to double as the world's population reaches 9.1 billion by 2050. Increasing the quantity and quality of food in response to growing demand will require increased agricultural productivity. Good agricultural practices, often in combination with effective input use, are one of the best ways to increase smallholder productivity. Many agricultural businesses are building sustainable supply chains to increase production and improve quality.

The good agricultural practice normally includes rules and regulations that monitor and control the agricultural activity and its impact on both the product and the environment. These rules and regulations include reducing erosion by wind and water through hedging and ditching, application of fertilizers at appropriate moments and in adequate doses to avoid run-off and soil contamination, reducing soil compaction issues by avoiding using heavy mechanical devices, maintaining or restoring soil organic content by manure application, use of grazing and crop rotation.

The practice also strictly regulates the methods and frequency of irrigation by instructing an irrigation schedule while monitoring the plant needs and soil water reserve status to avoid water loss by drainage. Irrigation regulations also include preventing soil salinization by limiting water input to needs, and recycling water whenever possible, avoiding crops with high water requirements in a low availability region, avoiding drainage and fertilizer run-off, maintaining permanent soil covering, in particular in winter to avoid nitrogen run-off, managing carefully water table by limiting heavy output of water.

In terms of animal production, health and welfare, animal well-being should be respected, animals should be prevented from hunger, thirst, discomfort, disease, injury, dear or distress. They should be granted the freedom of expressing normal behavior without any non-therapeutic mutilations or unnecessary invasive surgical procedures as tail docking. Any negative impacts on landscape, environment and life: contamination of land for grazing, food, water and air should be avoided. Chemical and medical residues should be prevented from entering the food chain. Also, mass transport of animals by foot, rail or road should be kept within minimum levels to reduce the risk of animal epidemics.


References
fao.org
ams.usda.gov
en.wikipedia.org
 

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