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Clean water is as important to human health and survival as fresh food, but unfortunately, these two resources are locked in competition. During the year 2004, agriculture was a leading source of water quality impairment, accounting for degradation of approximately 94,000 miles of streams and 1,670,513 acres of open water (EPA 2009). Sources of this decline in water quality are pollution, sedimentation, and depletion.

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Though often overlooked, or taken for granted, soil is nearly as quintessential to life as sunlight. Soils provide an anchor for the roots of primary producers upon which all other forms of terrestrial life depend. In addition, they filter sources of groundwater, harbor vast quantities of beneficial bacteria, fungi and nutrients, can be utilized as raw materials, and encapsulate clues about the deep history of our planet in the form of fossils or artifacts.

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Traditionally, agriculture was grounded in the environment where people lived; in the sense that farming practices were tailored in a way that prevented unsustainable degradation of the land upon which they depended. Modern advances in technology and their application to agriculture have created a gap between food production and ecology in many cases. Agricultural techniques are important environmentally because they have an enormous impact on resources such as soil, water, and air.

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