Irrigated agriculture has had major repercussions on the environment and public health. Often, the objectives of development with focus concentrated on increasing productivity have led to the collapse of the capacity of recovery of some natural ecosystems. The negative effects of water management in agriculture are related to the uses of land and water, in particular the theft of the natural ecosystems, with the extraction of water, erosion and loss of soil biodiversity.
The result of applying the research results of a survey by questionnaire to 50 farmers in the irrigated districts of Cuba and Ferreira do Alentejo, whose aim was to analyze their perceptions of environmental risk on their business.
The analysis of the questionnaire found that most are talking about male farmers, holders of a low level of education, over the age of 36 years old and with some agricultural training.
In the opinion of the majority of the farmers irrigated production is the best system that fits the region. Also, are of the opinion that of irrigated farming is becoming easier due to technological innovations.
Regarding the water used in their work is rooted in most cases a dam. It is classified as satisfactory by farmers but few examine the cause. Farmers are the top-level instruction in the most careful with the water quality.
The analysis of individual care taken by the respondents in the handling of plant protection products gives us aware that there is the part of a perception of the risks that entails the handling of these products.
These PPPs are applied in most cases, the growers themselves, and in most cases are taken precautions. The most careful, there are older individuals with higher levels of education and ownership of large farms and very large physical. According to farmers surveyed there are problems related to use of these products.
Regarding the impact of irrigated agriculture on the environment, we have farmers with low environmental risk perception that their work can produce. At this point it is no longer risks that may affect only the individual but of high risk in that it may affect public health and the environment in the short, medium and long term. May also have the effect of "boomerang" in that it can affect those who produce. Some of the comments made by farmers denotes a certain anthropocentric vision in their relationship with environment.
The analysis to respondents with environmental perception, it appears that the respondents are older and younger and primary level of education where the perception of risk is more pronounced.
In a topological configuration of perceptions of environmental risk resulting from the application of a Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA) could distinguish two dimensions.
The 1st dimension which called for "minor impact on production" composed by categories: landscapes, wildlife, soil quality and management of wastes.
The 2nd dimension named "biggest impact on production" composed by categories: salinization and pollution and scarcity of water.
Topological configuration is easy to see that the categories without perception values are relatively close together and therefore a more homogenous group. However this group one can distinguish two subgroups on the 2nd Dimension (salinity and water scarcity and pollution) and another subgroup for 1st Dimension (landscapes, wildlife, soil quality and waste management. These data confirm the hypothesis provided from that there are differences in perception of risk in terms of environmental impacts of their risk in production.
If, on the one hand, farmers are risk perception that pesticides may have on their health when your handling, taking it to the care required, the same is not true in relation to environmental risks that your business can bring. Here, the perception of environmental risk is generally very low. The impacts on production are a factor to influence the perceptions of environmental risk farmers of irrigation.
One factor that also signifies a lack of perception of environmental risk is the care of water quality, there are few farmers who have done tests on water and water quality is one of the most important concerns in regard to the future of their activity.
Also the ownership of the land for monoculture super intensive olive shows a lack of perception of environmental risk, as it can have negative impacts on the environment and does not fall on good agricultural practices and agri-environment schemes proposed by the European Union.
The level of perceived environmental risk presented, we believe, that these farmers do not practice one of irrigated agriculture sustainable.
We believe there are at least two factors that influence these perceptions. On the one hand, the utility that farmers have the nature associated with value judgments, where the benefits and losses are weighted. Moreover, lack of knowledge of the impacts that their activity may have on the environment.