How agriculture causes environmental degradation


Pollution. Agriculture is the leading source of pollution in many countries. Pesticides, fertilizers and other toxic farm chemicals can poison fresh water, marine ecosystems, air and soil. They also can remain in the environment for generations.


What are the causes of environmental degradation?

People are often overwhelmed with their own problems and do not have time or energy to think about our planet. This mix of a lack of education and simple ignorance can cause significant environmental degradation. Illegal dumping can also cause environmental degradation since it can lead to several kinds of pollution.

How does agriculture affect the environment?

These gases have a negative effect on climate change and include carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Various types of agriculture also use fertilization and pesticides, which releases phosphorus and nitrate in the air, among other things.

How does land degradation affect plants and animals?

Land and soil degradation can harm many plants. Since plants are usually quite sensitive to their natural living conditions, the contamination of soil with harmful substances may lead many plants to die off. Moreover, animals who rely on these plants will also decrease in population.

What are the causes of agricultural pollution?

The agricultural pollution caused by wrong animal management is a problem of nowadays society. Many years ago, farmers were just holding as many animals as their land could support. Today, there are so many big farms that coop up animals in a perverse way. This form of animal treatment can lead to serious diseases.


How does agriculture contribute to environmental degradation?

Agriculture contributes to a number larger of environmental issues that cause environmental degradation including: climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss, dead zones, genetic engineering, irrigation problems, pollutants, soil degradation, and waste.

How is India’s agricultural development causing environmental degradation?

Loss of soil fertility, erosion of soil, soil toxicity, diminishing water resources, pollution of underground water, salinity of underground water, increased incidence of human and livestock diseases and global warming are some of the negative impacts of over adoption of agricultural technologies by the farmers to make …

What are five environmental effects of agriculture Why do they happen and what is the impact?

Significant environmental and social issues associated with agricultural production include changes in the hydrologic cycle; introduction of toxic chemicals, nutrients, and pathogens; reduction and alteration of wildlife habitats; and invasive species.

What are the main causes of environmental degradation?

The major factor of environmental degradation is human (modern urbanization, industrialization, overpopulation growth, deforestation, etc.) and natural (flood, typhoons, droughts, rising temperatures, fires, etc.) cause. Today, different kinds of human activities are the main reasons for environmental degradation.

What are the disadvantages of agriculture?

Cons of AgricultureRisks of child labor. The increased demand for agricultural products calls for increased labor to realize huge profits. … Environmental pollution. … Health issues. … Agriculture leads to overgrazing. … Agriculture may disturb the family dynamics. … Spread of diseases. … Unpredictable weather. … Misuse of land.

How agriculture is affecting the environment?

Agriculture is the leading source of pollution in many countries. Pesticides, fertilizers and other toxic farm chemicals can poison fresh water, marine ecosystems, air and soil. They also can remain in the environment for generations.

What are the environmental factors that affect agriculture?

Environmental factors that influence the extent of crop agriculture are terrain, climate, soil properties, and soil water. It is the combination of these four factors that allow specific crops to be grown in certain areas.

How do agricultural chemicals affect the environment?

Impact on environment Pesticides can contaminate soil, water, turf, and other vegetation. In addition to killing insects or weeds, pesticides can be toxic to a host of other organisms including birds, fish, beneficial insects, and non-target plants.

What are the effects of agriculture on the environment?

Agricultural pollution also leads to air pollution. Many machines used for agricultural purposes emit harmful greenhouse gases like CO2 which in turn can lead to global warming. Moreover, farm animals emit large amounts of methane which is considered one of the most harmful greenhouse gases.

How does agricultural pollution affect plants?

Agricultural pollution can become a problem for parts of the local plants since invasive species could impact the population of native species in an adverse way which in turn can change the dynamics of the whole ecosystem.

How does fertilizer affect aquatic life?

Effects on aquatic life. There is also an adverse effect on the aquatic system from agricultural pollution. Since the excessive use of fertilizer can contaminate rivers with an excessive supply of nitrates and phosphates, the production of algae can be enhanced.

Why should farmers try to improve nutrition management?

Farmers should try to improve nutrition management so that fertilizer and pesticides are not used in excessive amounts in order to mitigate the agricultural pollution problem. This means to determine in a scientific way how much pesticides and fertilizer are necessary to get a reasonable crop yield.

How does agriculture affect human health?

There are severe effects of agricultural pollution on human health. Through an excessive use of fertilizer and pesticides, harmful chemicals can reach our groundwater. Thus, in higher amounts and in contaminated regions, drinking tap water can lead to serious health conditions. Moreover, agricultural pollutions can also cause the contamination …

Why are pesticides bad for the environment?

Excessive use of pesticides and herbicides. The excessive use of pesticides and herbicides in order to optimize yields has become a big problem for the environment. Pesticides and herbicides contain many chemicals that can impact the ecological system in an adverse manner.

What are the causes of water pollution?

Water pollution. Water pollution is another big problem which is caused by agricultural pollution. Through the excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, many harmful substances will reach our lakes, rivers and eventually also the groundwater.

Why is it so hard to meet the demand for accelerated agricultural productivity?

The reasons for this have to do with ecological factors. Global climate change is destabilizing many of the natural processes that make modern agriculture possible.

How do cattle damage soil?

Cattle and other large grazing animals can even damage soil by trampling on it. Bare, compacted land can bring about soil erosion and destruction of topsoil quality due to the runoff of nutrients. These and other impacts can destabilize a variety of fragile ecosystems and wildlife habitats. Chemical Fertilizer.

Where does nitrogen come from in fertilizer?

Roughly half the nitrogen in synthetic fertilizers escapes from the fields where it is applied, finding its way into the soil, air, water, and rainfall. After soil bacteria convert fertilizer nitrogen into nitrates, rainstorms or irrigation systems carry these toxins into groundwater and river systems.

What is the effect of nitrogen on soil?

In addition, fertilizer application in soil leads to the formation and release of nitrous oxide, one of the most harmful greenhouse gases.

How does irrigation affect water?

Irrigation causes increases in water evaporation, impacting both surface air temperature and pressure as well as atmospheric moisture conditions . Recent studies have confirmed that cropland irrigation can influence rainfall patterns not only over the irrigated area but even thousands of miles away.

What is irrigation related to?

Irrigation has also been connected to the erosion of coastlines and other kinds of long-term ecological and habitat destruction. A huge amount of agricultural territory is used primarily as pasture for cattle and other livestock.

What causes algae blooms in China?

Nutrient pollution is a causal factor in toxic algae blooms affecting lakes in China, the United States, and elsewhere. As excessive amounts of organic matter decompose in aquatic environments, they can bring about oxygen depletion and create “dead zones” within bodies of water, where nothing can survive.

How does agriculture affect the environment?

The environmental impact of agriculture involves impacts on a variety of different factors: the soil, to water, the air, animal and soil variety, people, plants, and the food itself. Agriculture contributes to a number larger of environmental issues that cause environmental degradation including: climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss, …

What are the causes of soil degradation?

Common attributes of soil degradation can be salting, waterlogging, compaction, pesticide contamination, a decline in soil structure quality, loss of fertility, changes in soil acidity, alkalinity, salinity, and erosion. Soil erosion is the wearing away of topsoil by water, wind, or farming activities. Topsoil is very fertile, which makes it valuable to farmers growing crops. Soil degradation also has a huge impact on biological degradation, which affects the microbial community of the soil and can alter nutrient cycling, pest and disease control, and chemical transformation properties of the soil.

Why do pesticides and plasticulture cause death?

The runoff from pesticides and chemicals in the plastic can cause serious deformations and death in shellfish as the runoff carries the chemicals towards the oceans.

How do pesticides affect other species?

Over 98% of sprayed insecticides and 95% of herbicides reach a destination other than their target species, because they are sprayed or spread across entire agricultural fields. Runoff can carry pesticides into aquatic environments while wind can carry them to other fields, grazing areas, human settlements and undeveloped areas, potentially affecting other species. Other problems emerge from poor production, transport and storage practices. Over time, repeated application increases pest resistance, while its effects on other species can facilitate the pest’s resurgence.

What is sustainable agriculture?

Sustainable agriculture is the idea that agriculture should occur in a way such that we can continue to produce what is necessary without infringing on the ability for future generations to do the same.

What are the bad practices in agriculture?

Bad management practices include poorly managed animal feeding operations, overgrazing, plowing, fertilizer, and improper, excessive, or badly timed use of pesticides. Pollutants from agriculture greatly affect water quality and can be found in lakes, rivers, wetlands, estuaries, and groundwater.

What are the main causes of extinction?

The 2019 IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services found that industrial agriculture and overfishing are the primary drivers of the extinction, with the meat and dairy industries having a substantial impact.

What is soil degradation?

Soil degradation is a process in which the value of the land and its biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human actions and non-natural phenomenons. The degradation comes from several sources but it is mainly from extensive agriculture.

How does land degradation affect the world?

Land degradation is happening at an alarming pace and is affecting regions inhabited by over one-third of the global population. This phenomenon contributes to a dramatic decline in the productivity of croplands and rangelands worldwide, thereby, threatening food security and environmental quality.

What causes soil biodiversity decline?

Biodiversity decline. Induced by soil contamination, erosion, salinisation and sealing; Soil biodiversity reflects the mix of living organisms in the soil. These organisms interact with one another and with plants and small animals forming a web of biological activity. Soil compaction.

How much of Europe’s soil is degraded by humans?

We can consider that agriculture is responsible for 80% of the soil degradation in Europe and scientists estimate that 40% of lands in Europe are already degraded because of human actions. If playback doesn’t begin shortly, try restarting your device.

How many ha of soil are affected by human induced soil degradation?

Globally, human-induced soil degradation has affected 1965 million ha. In the case of the World’s drylands, estimates by Dregne and Chou (1992) indicated that the continents of Africa and Asia are particularly affected by land degradation.

How much of the world’s land is degraded?

The areal extent of global degraded areas varies depending on the definitions. Globally, about 24% of the global land area has been affected by degradation and over 1.5 billion people live on degraded lands. Globally, human-induced soil degradation has affected 1965 million ha.

What is the weathering of rock?

Weathering of rock creates particles which are mixed with water, air, and organic material. Soils are classified according to particle size, chemical makeup, and horizon distribution. A brief discussion of soil loss through erosion, compaction, and salinization is included.

Why is land degradation important?

According to the UN, land degradation is one of the biggest environmental challenges, destabilizing societies, lowering food security and increasing poverty. Countries producing biofuels in response to energy security fears, adds to the food crisis as crops for biofuel replace food crops.

How does pollination affect agriculture?

Global agriculture relies heavily on pollination for crop production and is essential for around seventy-five percent of food crops across the world. A decline in wild insects caused by deforestation and climate change has sparked concern over food security among scientists. Biodiversity has irreplaceable value for food production, according to a recent worldwide study, which shows that wild pollinators are twice as effective in producing seeds and fruit on crops as honeybees. The study warns of the dangers of relying on a few managed species for pollination and underlines that further environmental degradation will have severe impacts on pollination systems. ( Guardian)

What is the UN declaration on the food crisis?

This declaration calls upon UN members and international agencies to implement short-, medium- and long-term solutions to the global food crisis. The text urges member states to increase aid to small-scale farmers in affected countries and raise investments for research to boost food production. World leaders failed to agree on the specific causes of the food crisis, including the role played by biofuel production. Instead, the declaration recommends further investigation into the impact that biofuel production has on food security. ( Food and Agriculture Organization)

How many hectares of paddy fields were destroyed by the 2011 floods?

Floods in the beginning of 2011 destroyed over 16,000 hectares of paddy fields and around ten percent of the early harvest and were followed by severe drought for most of 2012. This unpredictability is threatening farmers’ harvests and livelihood, increasing food and water insecurity.

How will heat waves affect crop yields?

Severe heat waves are having destructive effects on crop yields. Unless significant steps to curb climate change are taken, global warming will deepen the food crisis. A recent study published in Nature Climate Change indicates that if we continue on this road, wheat and soybean harvests will fall by up to 30% by 2050. Modern agricultural advancements have caused an increase in crop yields over the past 50 years; however, agro-industrial methods have heavily contributed to the release of greenhouse gases. The study shows that if global carbon and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced crop damage will improve. In light of this study, Ed Davey, the UK’s secretary of state for energy and climate change, said that it is “vital we stick with the UN climate change negotiations and secure a global legally binding deal by 2015”. (Guardian)

What is the link between the food crisis and the environment?

Environmental degradation and losses of cropland and biodiversity threaten food production. The report analyses the impact of ecocide on agricultural yield and the food system and calls for sustainable investments along with policy regulation of the food market. ( UNEP)

Why are aquifers depleting?

Many countries are suffering from aquifer depletion as they drill deep to increase food production. Aquifers are layers of water-bearing saturated rocks from which groundwater can be extracted. Overpumping aquifers temporarily inflates food production, enabling farmers to expand their harvest, but creates a food bubble that is bound to burst when water supplies shrink. Water tables are falling globally at unprecedented rates and most irrigated areas have peaked in India, China, and the US, the three biggest grain-producing countries. According to Lester R. Brown, unless countries address the growing water deficit, food bubbles will burst and create unmanageable food shortages, posing an imminent threat to global food security and political stability. ( IPS)

How does the United Nations respond to the problem of soil degradation?

United Nations they aim to respond to this problem globally by helping the most policy makers in countries who cannot answer this problem on their own, and will focus their resources on risk identification and mitigation of soil degradation by erosion.

Why does barren land starve microorganisms?

Bare land starves microorganisms because they need both living and dead organic food to eat.

What does orange do to the soil?

Orange destroys the underground network of nutrients which is crucial for the creation of structural microaggregates that hold water and gases in the soil, and thus provide adequate habitat by microorganisms.

Abstract and Figures

Currently, one of the most significant challenges of agricultural sector of an economy is to keep pace with the world’s rapidly growing population in order to feed them. But continuous environmental degradation is posing serious threat to the agricultural production.

References (110)

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What are the causes of environmental degradation?

Agricultural pollution. Another cause of environmental degradation is agricultural pollution. Since in agricultural processes, large amounts of fertilizer and pesticides are used, the soil can become degraded due to harmful components in these substances.

How does environmental degradation affect plants?

Environmental degradation can also lead to a loss of biodiversity. Land and soil degradation can harm many plants. Since plants are usually quite sensitive to their natural living conditions, the contamination of soil with harmful substances may lead many plants to die off.

Why is plastic bad for the environment?

Since plastic often has to be burned in order to get rid of it, this combustion leads to the emission of harmful gases into our atmosphere. Moreover, part of the plastic trash also ends up in our oceans where it leads to enormous water degradation and to the death of many sea animals.

How does mining affect the environment?

Mining. Mining can lead to serious degradation of the environment since for mining practices, large areas of land have to be used. This often also includes deforestation in these areas and the related adverse effects. Thus, natural habitats for many animals and plants may be destroyed due to mining practices.

What are the effects of illegal dumping?

Illegal Dumping. Illegal dumping can also cause environmental degradation since it can lead to several kinds of pollution. For example, by dumping waste into rivers, lakes or the ocean, the water gets polluted to a severe degree which in turn can lead to the contamination of many fishes and other sea animals.

Why is trash dumped in the ocean?

Trash is often just dumped in our oceans in order to get rid of it. In many poor countries, illegal dumping is also a big problem. Large amounts of industrial waste are just disposed of into nearby rivers or lakes, causing tremendous water degradation.

What is the cause of atmospheric degradation?

Atmospheric degradation occurs due to our increased consumption levels and the implied increased demand for material goods. In order to meet the demand for goods, industries have to produce large amounts …



The environmental impact of agriculture is the effect that different farming practices have on the ecosystems around them, and how those effects can be traced back to those practices. The environmental impact of agriculture varies widely based on practices employed by farmers and by the scale of practice. Farming communities that try to reduce environmental impacts through modifying their practices will adopt sustainable agriculture practices. The negative impact of agri…

By environmental issue

Climate change and agriculture are interrelated processes, both of which take place on a worldwide scale. Global warming is projected to have significant impacts on conditions affecting agriculture, including temperature, precipitation and glacial run-off. These conditions determine the carrying capacity of the biosphere to produce enough food for the human population and domesticated a…

Sustainable agriculture

Sustainable agriculture is the idea that agriculture should occur in a way such that we can continue to produce what is necessary without infringing on the ability for future generations to do the same.
The exponential population increase in recent decades has increased the practice of agricultural land conversion to meet the demand for food which in t…

See also

• Agroecology
• Agricultural pollution
• Agro-hydro-salinity model (for environmental impacts of irrigated agriculture)
• Cultured meat

Further reading

• Miller, G. T., & Spoolman, S. (2012). Environmental science. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1-305-25716-0
• Qaim, Matin (2010). “Benefits of genetically modified crops for the poor: household income, nutrition, and health”. New Biotechnology. 27 (5): 552–557. doi:10.1016/j.nbt.2010.07.009. ISSN 1871-6784. PMID 20643233.

External links

• Holistic Management International
• Environmental Issues in Animal Agriculture – Choices magazine article
• Website with free articles and software on environmental impacts of irrigated agriculture like waterlogging and salinization

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