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F Alduncin

International Journal of Agricultural Policy and Research
ISSN 2350-1561
Vol.6 (5), pp. 64-70, May 2018
Available online at
Author(s) retain the copyright of this article. Author(s) agree that this article remain permanently open access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 International License.

Original Research Article

UK agriculture policy and intensification since the 1970’s: Assessing environmental consequences due to fertilizers, pesticides and hedgerow management

Alduncin Francesca

London School of Economics and Political Science – Department of Geography and Environment

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date Received: March 29, 2018     date Accepted: May 7, 2018     date Published: May 24, 2018


Henry Williamson’s documentary ‘The Vanishing Hedgerows’ illustrates increasing environmental problems from agricultural intensification in the UK. Almost half a century later, these concerns continue despite transitions toward sustainable intensification and political conservation agendas. Domestic application rates for artificial pesticides continue to increase, causing additional stress for non-target species. While nitrate fertilizer applications have declined, eutrophication, deposition and acidification remain which suggests possible environmental accumulation. Mechanized management of hedgerows is common practice, affecting local habitat structures and environmental services. In response to these multi-variant problems, the UK government has implemented stringent environmental regulations. This includes promotion of traditional management, investments in agricultural technologies, and payments for ecosystem services. This paper reviews the extent to which these policies have been successful in addressing environmental concerns from agricultural intensification. Analysis takes on a geographic perspective, trying to make sense of the diverse spatial spread of policy uptake. It is concluded that the net results of policy interventions are ambiguous, since environmental problems are still prevalent across different spatial contexts. It is further concluded that examples of localized success may be more closely related to general trends of land abandonment in lowland areas, and not policy effectiveness.

Key words: UK, Agricultural policy, land intensification, environmental impact assessment