IELTS Academic Reading Practice 11

 
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This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 15-28.

Questions 15-19

Do the following statements reflect the claims of the writer in the reading passage? In boxes 15-19 on your answer sheet, write

YES   if the statement reflects the claims of the writer
NO   if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN   if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

15. Research completed in 1982 found that in the United States soil erosion reduced the productivity of farmland by 20 percent.
16. By the mid-1980s, farmers in Denmark used twice as much fertiliser as they had in 1960.
17. Farm diversification increased in New Zealand after 1984.
18. Other countries, including the European Union, agreed with long-term benefit of ending subsidies.
19. The Uruguay Round agreements on trade will encourage more sustainable farming practices in the long term.
Questions 20-25

The reading passage has six sections, A-F.

Choose the correct heading for sections A-F from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number i-x in boxes 20-25 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings
  1. The probable effects of the new international trade agreement
  2. Word food output as a result of modern farming
  3. The effects of soil erosion on farming
  4. The effects of government policy in rich countries
  5. The management of the environment
  6. The effects of government policy in poor countries
  7. The environmental impact of farming
  8. Government policy on food output
  9. The prospects for world trade
  10. Movement of farming to developing countries

20. Section A
21. Section B
22. Section C
23. Section D
24. Section E
25. Section F
Questions 26-28

Complete the table using the list of words, A-I, below.

Agricultural  practice Environmental damage that may result
Soil erosion
Expansion of monoculture
Degraded water supply

  1. Soil erosion
  2. Clearing land for cultivation
  3. Increased use of chemical inputs
  4. Increased irrigation
  5. Disappearance of old plant varieties
  6. Insurance against pests and diseases
  7. More intensive farming
  8. Abandonment of fallow period
  9. Deforestation

Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
N/A
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
N/A
30
N/A
31
N/A
32
N/A
33
N/A
34
N/A
35
N/A
36
N/A
37
N/A
38
N/A
39
N/A
40
N/A


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Environmental Management

Section A

The role of governments in environmental management is difficult but inescapable. Sometimes, the state tries to manage the resources it owns and does so badly. Often, however, governments act in an even more harmful way. They actually subsidize the exploitation and consumption of natural resources. A whole range of policies, from farm-price support to protection for coal-mining, do environmental damage and (often) make no economic sense. Scrapping them offers a two-fold bonus: a cleaner environment and a more efficient economy. Growth and environmentalism can actually go hand in hand if politicians have the courage to confront the vested interest that subsidies create.

Section B

No activity affects more of the earth's surface than farming. It shapes a third of the planet's land area, not counting Antarctica, and that amount of land is increasing. World food output per head rose by 4 percent between the 1970s and 1980s. This was mainly as a result of increases in yields from land already in cultivation, but it was also due to larger amounts of land being farmed. Higher yields were achieved by increased irrigation, better crop breeding, and doubling the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers in the 1970s and 1980s.

Section C

All these activities may have damaging environmental impacts. For example, clearing land for agriculture is the single largest cause of deforestation. Additionally, chemical fertilisers and pesticides  may contaminate water supplies, while more intensive farming practices of constantly farming the land tend to exacerbate soil erosion. Finally, the spread of monoculture and use of high-yielding varieties of crops have been accompanied by the disappearance of old varieties of crops which might have provided some insurance against pests or diseases in the future. Soil erosion threatens the productivity of land in both rich and poor countries. The United States, which has taken the most precise measurements, discovered in 1982 that about one-fifth of its farmland was losing topsoil at a rate likely to diminish the soil's productivity. The country subsequently undertook a farming program aimed to  convert 11 percent of its agricultural land to meadows or forests. Meanwhile, topsoil in India and China is vanishing at a much faster rate than in the United States.

Section D

Government policies have frequently made the environmental damage that farming can cause even worse. In the rich countries, subsidies for growing crops and price supports for farm output drive up the price of land. The annual value of these subsidies is immense: about $250 billion, or more than all World Bank lending in the 1980s. To increase the output of crops per acre, a farmer's easiest option is to use more of the most readily available inputs: fertilizers and pesticides. Fertiliser use doubled in Denmark in the period 1960-1985 and increased in The Netherlands by 150 percent. The quantity of pesticides applied has also risen. For example, pesticide use was up by 69 percent in 1975-1984 in Denmark, with a rise of 115 percent in the frequency of application in the three years following 1981. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, people began making some efforts to reduce farm subsidies. The most dramatic example was that of New Zealand, which stopped supporting farming subsidies in 1984. A study conducted in 1993 on environmental effects found that ending fertilizer subsidies resulted in a decline in fertilizer use (this was made worse by the decline in world commodity prices, which cut income for farms). The removal of subsidies also stopped land clearing and excess farming, which were the principal causes of erosion at that time. Farms began to diversify. The one kind of subsidy whose removal appeared to have been bad for the environment was the subsidy to manage soil erosion.

In other countries, including the European Union, the trend has been to reduce rather than eliminate subsidies, and to introduce new payments to encourage farmers to treat their land in environmentally friendlier ways, or to stop farming on it. It may sound strange, but such payments need to be higher than the existing incentives for farmers to grow food crops. Farmers, however, dislike being paid to do nothing. In several countries, they have become interested in the possibility of using fuel produced from crop residues either as a replacement for petrol (as ethanol) or as fuel for power stations (as biomass). Such fuels produce far less carbon dioxide than coal or oil and absorb carbon dioxide as they grow. They are therefore less likely to contribute to the greenhouse effect. But they are rarely competitive with fossil fuels unless subsidized - and growing them does no less environmental harm than other crops.

Section E

In poor countries, governments aggravate other sorts of damage. Subsidies for pesticides and artificial fertilizers encourage farmers to use greater quantities than are needed to get the highest economic crop yield. A study by the International Rice Research Institute of pesticide use by farmers in South East Asia found that, with pest-resistant varieties of rice, even moderate applications of pesticide frequently cost farmers more than they saved. Such waste puts farmers on a chemical treadmill: bugs and weeds become resistant to poisons, so next year's poisons must be more lethal. One cost is to human health, as every year some 10,000 people die from pesticide poisoning, almost all of them in the developing countries, and another 400,000 become seriously ill. As for artificial fertilizers, their use worldwide increased by 40 per cent per unit of farmed land between the mid-1970s and late 1980s, mostly in the developing countries. Overuse of fertilizers may cause farmers to stop rotating crops or stop farming the land. That, in turn, may make soil erosion worse.

Section F

As a result of the Uruguay Round of world trade negotiations, there is likely to be a reduction of 36 per cent in the average levels of farm subsidies paid by rich countries in 1986-1990. Some of the world's food production will move from Western Europe to regions where subsidies are lower or non-existent, such as former communist countries and parts of the developing world. Some environmentalists worry about this outcome. It will undoubtedly mean more pressure to convert natural habitat into farmland. But it will also have many desirable environmental effects. The intensity of farming in the developed world may decline, and the use of chemical inputs will diminish. Crops are more likely to be grown in the environments to which they are naturally suited. And more farmers in poor countries will have the money and the incentive to manage their land in ways that are sustainable in the long run.  To feed an increasingly hungry world, farmers need every incentive to use their soil and water effectively and efficiently

Reading Passage Vocabulary
Environmental Management

Section A

The role of governments in environmental management is difficult but inescapable. Sometimes, the state tries to manage the resources it owns and does so badly. Often, however, governments act in an even more harmful way. They actually subsidize the exploitation and consumption of natural resources. A whole range of policies, from farm-price support to protection for coal-mining, do environmental damage and (often) make no economic sense. Scrapping them offers a two-fold bonus: a cleaner environment and a more efficient economy. Growth and environmentalism can actually go hand in hand if politicians have the courage to confront the vested interest that subsidies create.

Section B

No activity affects more of the earth's surface than farming. It shapes a third of the planet's land area, not counting Antarctica, and that amount of land is increasing. World food output per head rose by 4 percent between the 1970s and 1980s. This was mainly as a result of increases in yields from land already in cultivation, but it was also due to larger amounts of land being farmed. Higher yields were achieved by increased irrigation, better crop breeding, and doubling the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers in the 1970s and 1980s.

Section C

All these activities may have damaging environmental impacts. For example, clearing land for agriculture is the single largest cause of deforestation. Additionally, chemical fertilisers and pesticides  may contaminate water supplies, while more intensive farming practices of constantly farming the land tend to exacerbate soil erosion. Finally, the spread of monoculture and use of high-yielding varieties of crops have been accompanied by the disappearance of old varieties of crops which might have provided some insurance against pests or diseases in the future. Soil erosion threatens the productivity of land in both rich and poor countries. The United States, which has taken the most precise measurements, discovered in 1982 that about one-fifth of its farmland was losing topsoil at a rate likely to diminish the soil's productivity. The country subsequently undertook a farming program aimed to  convert 11 percent of its agricultural land to meadows or forests. Meanwhile, topsoil in India and China is vanishing at a much faster rate than in the United States.

Section D

Government policies have frequently made the environmental damage that farming can cause even worse. In the rich countries, subsidies for growing crops and price supports for farm output drive up the price of land. The annual value of these subsidies is immense: about $250 billion, or more than all World Bank lending in the 1980s. To increase the output of crops per acre, a farmer's easiest option is to use more of the most readily available inputs: fertilizers and pesticides. Fertiliser use doubled in Denmark in the period 1960-1985 and increased in The Netherlands by 150 percent. The quantity of pesticides applied has also risen. For example, pesticide use was up by 69 percent in 1975-1984 in Denmark, with a rise of 115 percent in the frequency of application in the three years following 1981. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, people began making some efforts to reduce farm subsidies. The most dramatic example was that of New Zealand, which stopped supporting farming subsidies in 1984. A study conducted in 1993 on environmental effects found that ending fertilizer subsidies resulted in a decline in fertilizer use (this was made worse by the decline in world commodity prices, which cut income for farms). The removal of subsidies also stopped land clearing and excess farming, which were the principal causes of erosion at that time. Farms began to diversify. The one kind of subsidy whose removal appeared to have been bad for the environment was the subsidy to manage soil erosion.

In other countries, including the European Union, the trend has been to reduce rather than eliminate subsidies, and to introduce new payments to encourage farmers to treat their land in environmentally friendlier ways, or to stop farming on it. It may sound strange, but such payments need to be higher than the existing incentives for farmers to grow food crops. Farmers, however, dislike being paid to do nothing. In several countries, they have become interested in the possibility of using fuel produced from crop residues either as a replacement for petrol (as ethanol) or as fuel for power stations (as biomass). Such fuels produce far less carbon dioxide than coal or oil and absorb carbon dioxide as they grow. They are therefore less likely to contribute to the greenhouse effect. But they are rarely competitive with fossil fuels unless subsidized - and growing them does no less environmental harm than other crops.

Section E

In poor countries, governments aggravate other sorts of damage. Subsidies for pesticides and artificial fertilizers encourage farmers to use greater quantities than are needed to get the highest economic crop yield. A study by the International Rice Research Institute of pesticide use by farmers in South East Asia found that, with pest-resistant varieties of rice, even moderate applications of pesticide frequently cost farmers more than they saved. Such waste puts farmers on a chemical treadmill: bugs and weeds become resistant to poisons, so next year's poisons must be more lethal. One cost is to human health, as every year some 10,000 people die from pesticide poisoning, almost all of them in the developing countries, and another 400,000 become seriously ill. As for artificial fertilizers, their use worldwide increased by 40 per cent per unit of farmed land between the mid-1970s and late 1980s, mostly in the developing countries. Overuse of fertilizers may cause farmers to stop rotating crops or stop farming the land. That, in turn, may make soil erosion worse.

Section F

As a result of the Uruguay Round of world trade negotiations, there is likely to be a reduction of 36 per cent in the average levels of farm subsidies paid by rich countries in 1986-1990. Some of the world's food production will move from Western Europe to regions where subsidies are lower or non-existent, such as former communist countries and parts of the developing world. Some environmentalists worry about this outcome. It will undoubtedly mean more pressure to convert natural habitat into farmland. But it will also have many desirable environmental effects. The intensity of farming in the developed world may decline, and the use of chemical inputs will diminish. Crops are more likely to be grown in the environments to which they are naturally suited. And more farmers in poor countries will have the money and the incentive to manage their land in ways that are sustainable in the long run.  To feed an increasingly hungry world, farmers need every incentive to use their soil and water effectively and efficiently

 
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