How industrial agriculture affects our soil


The Impact of Industrial Agriculture on Soil Health

  • The Effect of Monocropping on Soil Health. Monocropping is the practice of growing the same crop on the same plot of land, year after year. …
  • Synthetic Fertilizers Negatively Impact Soil Health. …
  • Pesticide Residues in Soil. …
  • Factory Farm Waste Contaminates Soils. …
  • Tillage, Soil Compaction and Erosion. …

This practice depletes the soil of nutrients (making the soil less productive over time), reduces organic matter in soil and can cause significant erosion. In the US, industrial farming practices often include the rotation of soybeans and corn.Oct 8, 2018


What are the pros and cons of industrial agriculture?

What Are the Pros of Factory Farming?

  1. It keeps prices down for consumers. Factory farming allows for livestock products to be produce on a large economic scale. …
  2. It allows automation to help provide food resources. In the past, farming meant an intense amount of daily manual labor to produce a crop. …
  3. It improves production efficiencies. …

More items…

What are the negative effects of industrial agriculture?

Industrial farming is bad for the health of workers, eaters, and downstream neighbors. Here are some of its costly health impacts: Pesticide toxicity. Herbicides and insecticides commonly used in agriculture have been associated with both acute poisoning and long-term chronic illness. Water pollution from fertilizer runoff contaminates …

What are the advantages of industrial agriculture?

Pros of Using Industrial Agriculture

  • Industrial agriculture comes with a lot of benefits which are listed below.
  • It increases agricultural production in lesser time.
  • It makes life easier by bringing down the cost of agricultural produce.
  • It boosts the economy.
  • It creates employment opportunities for the skilled and unskilled.

More items…

What are the environmental impacts of industrial agriculture?

The visualization here shows a summary of some of the main global impacts:

  • Food accounts for over a quarter (26%) of global greenhouse gas emissions 1;
  • Half of the world’s habitable (ice- and desert-free) land is used for agriculture;
  • 70% of global freshwater withdrawals are used for agriculture 2;

More items…


How does agriculture affect the soil?

Farming practices such as tilling break up the soil and destroy its natural structure, killing many of the vital bacteria and fungi that live there and leaving it vulnerable to being washed away. “Soil is not just useful for helping us grow food,” says Vargas.

What are the effects of industrial agriculture?

Industrial farming is bad for the health of workers, eaters, and downstream neighbors. Here are some of its costly health impacts: Pesticide toxicity. Herbicides and insecticides commonly used in agriculture have been associated with both acute poisoning and long-term chronic illness.

How does industrial agriculture affect the environment?

The industrial agriculture system consumes fossil fuel, water, and topsoil at unsustainable rates. It contributes to numerous forms of environmental degradation, including air and water pollution, soil depletion, diminishing biodiversity, and fish die-offs.

What are the disadvantages of industrial agriculture?

While industrial agriculture depends on machinery, that doesn’t mean human work isn’t necessary….It increases the risk of animal cruelty. … It negatively impacts small business agriculture. … It creates environmental concerns. … It contributes to health problems. … It can produce low-quality food.

In what ways does industrial agriculture simplify an ecosystem and damage soils?

This practice depletes the soil of nutrients (making the soil less productive over time), reduces organic matter in soil and can cause significant erosion. In the US, industrial farming practices often include the rotation of soybeans and corn.

How industrial agriculture affects our water?

High quantities of nutrients in water from industrial crop fertilizers and animal waste cause excessive aquatic plant growth — a process known as “eutrophication,” which, in turn, causes “hypoxia,” or water that is low in oxygen. Harmful algal blooms (or HABs) occur when aquatic algae grow rapidly out of control.

What are three major problems of industrial agriculture?

Industrial agriculture has led to several public health concerns such as antimicrobial resistance, impacts on occupational and community health, and transfer of zoonotic diseases to humans (Marshall & Levy, 2011).

How do agriculture affect the environment?

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 environmental problems arise from industrialized production?

Industrial agriculture harms the environment through pollution of air, soil and water.Air emissions from livestock operations make up 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.Conventional crop production degrades soil health and causes soil erosion.More items…

How does industrial agriculture affect human health?

Through runoff and leaching agricultural pesticides contaminate ground and surface water. Pesticide exposure is associated with increased risk of certain cancers and disorders of the nervous, endocrine, immune, and reproductive systems.

How has industrial agriculture had an effect on the world and its population?

Industrial agriculture has substantially increased global agricultural productivity, leading to much more food for a growing human population. Industrial agriculture has also impacted human society in a variety of other ways and has had major impacts on the environment, many of which are harmful.

How does industrial agriculture cause deforestation?

Meat production is a leading cause of deforestation. It destroys animal habitats, cripples biodiversity, and increases GHG emissions in our atmosphere. Consumers often unknowingly support deforestation by purchasing foods, animal byproducts, and wood products sourced from unsustainable operations.

How do microbes affect soil?

This rich diversity of microbes affects most soil properties, including moisture content, structure, density, and nutrient composition. When microbes are lost, the properties of soil that allow it to stabilize plants, convert chemicals, and perform other vital functions are also reduced. The microbe content of soil—its biodiversity—is nearly …

How have we destabilized our soil ecosystems?

For starters, we’ve destabilized our soil ecosystems through the widespread and reckless use of chemicals—herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers— that destroy nearly everything in sight, except the plants themselves (many of them genetically engineered to withstand herbicides and pesticides).

What is monoculture farming?

Monoculture farming relies heavily on chemical inputs such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. In a monocropping system, what soil organisms aren’t destroyed by chemicals and over-tilling, are edged out when their plant symbionts are lost.

What is monoculture in agriculture?

At the core of industrial food production is monoculture—the practice of growing single crops intensively on a very large scale. Corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton and rice are all commonly grown this way in the United States. Monoculture farming relies heavily on chemical inputs such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

Why are soy and alfalfa nutrient deficient?

We end up with corn, soy, alfalfa and other crops that may appear “healthy,” but in truth, are nutrient-deficient because the nutrient-cycling quality of the soil has been destroyed.

How does the loss of biodiversity affect the immune system?

The human immune system is developed early in life through exposure to environmental stimuli.

Why is biodiversity important?

And that biodiversity is essential for the growth of nutrient-rich foods. The Earth’s soil is a dynamic mixture of rock particles, water, gases, and microorganisms. Just one cup of soil contains more …

What are the benefits of industrial agriculture?

Benefits Of Industrial Agriculture. The main advantage of intensive farming is its increased performance when higher yields are harvested from smaller territories. This brings economic benefits to landowners and provides food for the growing population. Intensive agriculture fully satisfies the market demand even in densely inhabited areas.

Why do industrial agriculture practices make lands weaker?

So, strong industrial agriculture practices make lands weaker as they significantly interfere with natural soil processes.

How does intensive farming affect the environment?

Intensive farming causes environment pollution and induces major health issues due to poisonous agents. In this regard, the impacts of industrial agriculture require serious attention and management of risks.

What are the effects of monocropping?

Monocropping of high-yield species like rice, soybeans, corn, or wheat provokes high pest establishment and soil depletion. Particular pests attack particular crops; intercropped cultures act as barriers since they are non-host plants. Furthermore, reduced diversity of crops due to this fundamental industrial agriculture practice means better pest establishment and development of their resistance to controls applied. This results in extreme use of chemicals (often critical to humans and nature) and stronger option introductions.

What is intensive farming?

Intensive agriculture is the most typical method of soil cultivation and the key source of food worldwide. It relies on reaping high yields with strong and often extreme land exploitation and often extreme inputs. The main benefits of intensive farming include sufficient food supplies at affordable prices.

Why are bees and birds declining in agriculture?

Recent researches report decreased farmland bird and bee populations due to heavy insecticides in industrial agriculture , being a significant threat to further farming business and ecology in general. Hormones mitigating plant diseases are another harmful issue of intensive farming.

How does industrial agriculture affect animals?

Apart from the expansion of new territories when wildlife loses its natural habitation areas, animals are greatly affected by chemical applications in industrial agriculture. While herbicides pollute natural resources, pesticides are rarely selective and kill beneficial species as well, like pollinators and soil-dwelling microorganisms contributing to its fertility. Recent researches report decreased farmland bird and bee populations due to heavy insecticides in industrial agriculture, being a significant threat to further farming business and ecology in general. Hormones mitigating plant diseases are another harmful issue of intensive farming.

What are the effects of industrial farming?

Industrial farming yield a relatively small amount of food like fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products but produce staggering quantities of greenhouse gases and wastes that pollute air, water and soil.

Why is industrial agriculture important?

Industrial Agriculture. Agricultural industrialization supported by new technology is important with increasing size of farms driven by consumer needs. The vector control programmes and modern industrial agricultural practicesfor public health purposes use chemical insecticides and pesticides to control disease carriers and insect pests.

What are the causes of soil erosion?

Soil erosion causes downstream sediment pollution and decline insoil fertility. Agricultural and commercial inorganic chemicals like herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers causeair,water andsoil pollution. Improper use of agricultural methods elevates faecal contaminants, concentrations of nutrients and sediment loads.

How does agriculture affect the ecosystem?

Industrial agricultural practices have negative effect on the ecosystem with wide range of environmental impacts on water quality, carbon sequestration, soil retention, nutrient cycling and biodiversity conservation.

What is JLI in agriculture?

James Lind Institute (JLI) provides online program in Agribusiness and Public Health Integration to help train professional who can work in multiple sectors for improving the impact of industrial agriculture on the environment.

What is the main reason for destroying forestland?

Conversion of land for agricultural purpose is the main reason for destroying forestland. Poor farming practices of land clearance and deforestation, livestock overgrazing, inappropriate irrigation and over-drafting causes agricultural depletion of soil nutrients.

Why is land, energy and water needed in industrial agriculture?

Massive amounts of land, energy and water are needed in industrial agriculture to raise animals for food that causes immense animal suffering and increase in global greenhouse gases.

How did agriculture change our life?

Modern agriculture was born just 12,000 years ago, when we began to grow wild wheat and barley in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East and Mediterranean basin, and to tend to the first rice paddies in swamps in China. Agriculture transformed our way of life, giving us more consistent food supplies, allowing the growth of civilizations, and supporting an exponential boom in human population.

What are the sources of agricultural pollution?

Agricultural pollution has many different sources. Nitrogen-based fertilizers produce potent greenhouse gases and can overload waterways with dangerous pollutants; chemical pesticides with varying toxicological effects can contaminate our air and water or reside directly on our food.

How do antibiotics affect animals?

The widespread use of antibiotics in meat production in animals that are not sick is contributing to the public health crisis of antibiotic resistance. Two-thirds of antibiotics important to human medicine in the U.S. are sold for use in livestock, not people. The regular use of these drugs in the food and water of farm animals to (poorly) help them survive the often crowded, unsanitary, and stressful conditions on CAFOs contributes to the rise and proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These bacteria can then spread from CAFOs via air and water, including water used to irrigate crops, and can end up in animal waste used to fertilize crops. Contaminated meat and farmworkers’ clothing and shoes can also spread these antibiotic-resistant bacteria into our communities. Resistant bacteria can even “teach” other bacteria resistance, and this process can take place anywhere bacteria are found, including in our homes and guts. The exposure of workers and farm-adjacent communities is particularly high.

What is synthetic fertilizer made of?

But synthetic fertilizer is made up of a nitrogen- and hydrogen-based ammonia (NH3) that can be used by plants directly. Transforming N2 into NH3 through chemical processes is resource intensive, and this form of nitrogen is also more prone to reacting with other things in the environment, not just plants.

Why are antibiotics used in farm animals?

The regular use of these drugs in the food and water of farm animals to (poorly) help them survive the often crowded, unsanitary, and stressful conditions on CAFOs contributes to the rise and proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

How much nitrogen did farmers use in 1964?

A big boom, indeed: In 1964 U.S. farmers applied about 4.3 million tons of nitrogen to their crops each year. By 2007, American farmers were dropping 5 .7 million tons of nitrogen fertilizer just on corn. Synthetic forms of nitrogen are different in some key ways from the nitrogen occurring naturally in our atmosphere.

How are farm workers exposed to pesticides?

Farmworkers are particularly susceptible to exposure, coming into contact with pesticides when spraying fields, inhaling pesticide “drift,” and exposing their families via contamination on their clothing. Rural residents in general may be exposed to contaminated water, air, and food.

How does crop farming affect the environment?

There is soil depletion and soil infertility related to monoculture, soil erosion, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, increased greenhouse gas emissions (particularly methane and nitrous oxide) from cow digestion and manure as well as nitrogen-based fertilizers, and pesticide overuse leading to potential pesticide toxicity (especially in farmworkers). Studies show that employees of CAFOs are at risk from potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria; workers can also bring these bacteria home. Farmworkers and local communities can also be exposed to hazardous fumes wafting from unlined, uncovered pits of animal waste and other sources. And despite the fact that CAFOs often must meet permitting requirements and are regulated by both state and federal agencies, NRDC has discovered a worrying lack of transparency. Discrepancies between data collected by states and the EPA suggest the EPA is unaware of the size, number, and location of CAFOs across the country and what those operations are doing to control pollution. And that’s just for starters. Here are some areas of particular concern.

What is industrial agriculture?

Industrial agriculture is the large-scale, intensive production of crops and animals, often involving chemical fertilizers on crops or the routine , harmful use of antibiotics in animals (as a way to compensate for filthy conditions, even when the animals are not sick). It may also involve crops that are genetically modified, …

How much manure was produced in 2012?

In 2012 livestock and poultry raised in the largest CAFOs in the United States produced 369 million tons of manure, according to an analysis of USDA figures done by Food & Water Watch. All that waste has to go somewhere.

Why is monoculture bad for the soil?

Monoculture also renders the soil prone to rapid erosion, since the practice leaves the soil bare outside of the crop’s growing season. Perhaps more problematically, repeatedly planting the same crop invites pests that prey on a certain plant to wait around the same spot for their favorite food to return.

Why do industrial farms use antibiotics?

Industrial farms overuse antibiotics, feeding large amounts of the drugs—often the same ones used to treat human illnesses—to healthy animals to help them survive in crowded, dirty CAFOs. Low-level exposure to antibiotics creates the perfect breeding ground for superbugs, those pathogens that antibiotics can’t kill.

How long has agriculture been around?

Human agriculture has existed for about 12,000 years, and industrial farming is less than a century old. But the latter has become so prevalent that sustainable farming practices are now sometimes branded “alternative.”

What did ancient farmers plant?

Ancient farmers planted seeds from only the sweetest fruits, generation after generation, ensuring that any genetic variations that increased sweetness survived. By selecting plants with increasingly white, increasingly tiny, flowers, farmers turned a weedy little herb into cauliflower. It was slow but effective.

How does machinery affect soil?

Soil compaction. Induced by machinery use leads to a reduction in biological activity, porosity and permeability. It reduces water storage and conduct and make soil less permeable to plant roots, can affect water infiltration capacity and increase erosion risk by accelerating run‐off. Livestock.

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.

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.

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.

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.

How did the use of chemicals and pesticides affect agriculture?

The massive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides changed the whole fabric of agriculture and farming, as the agrochemical industry persuaded farmers that they could make more money by planting large fields with a single highly profitable crop and by controlling weeds and pests with chemicals.

How does agroecology improve agricultural productivity?

In other words, agroecology is able to raise agricultural productivity in ways that are economically viable, environmentally benign, and socially uplifting.

What are the effects of monocultures on the environment?

The ecological imbalance caused by monocultures and excessive use of chemicals also resulted in enormous increases in pests and crop diseases , which farmers countered by spraying ever-larger doses of pesticides in vicious cycles of depletion and destruction.

What is the main principle of agroecology?

A key principle of agroecology is the diversification of farming systems.

What are the major problems of our time?

Today it is becoming more and more evident that the major problems of our time — energy, the environment, climate change, food security, financial security — cannot be understood in isolation. They are systemic problems, which means that they are all interconnected and interdependent, and they require corresponding systemic solutions.

What happens when crops are planted and fertilized synthetically year after year?

As the same crops were planted and fertilized synthetically year after year, the balance of the ecological processes in the soil was disrupted; the amount of organic matter diminished, and with it the soil’s ability to retain moisture.

What are the consequences of warmer air?

Warmer air means that there is more energy and more moisture in the atmosphere, which can lead to a wide variety of consequences — floods, tornados, and hurricanes; but also droughts, heat waves, and wildfires. All of these consequences are threats to global food security.

How does agriculture affect water quality?

How Industrial Agriculture Affects Our Water. Industrial agriculture is one of the leading causes of water pollution in the United States. 1 According to the 2017 National Water Quality Inventory of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 46 percent of the nation’s rivers and streams are in “poor biological condition,” and 21 percent …

What happens when fertilizer leaches into the groundwater?

The excess nutrients from fertilizer leech into surface and groundwater, causing algal blooms and nitrate contamination, impacting drinking water, recreational activities (such as swimming and boating), fishing/shell fishing and marine and aquatic ecology.

What are the two macronutrients in fertilizer?

Nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, are two of the main macronutrients in fertilizer that promote plant growth. Synthetic fertilizers containing both nitrogen and phosphorus are applied imprecisely to farm fields, often at rates far higher than what the plants need or what the soil can absorb.

What percentage of freshwater is used in agriculture?

Agriculture accounts for 80 percent (in Western states, up to 90 percent) of all freshwater use in the US. 55 Most US farms in the Midwest use center-pivot irrigation: long overhead sprinklers that rotate around a central axis. Center-pivot irrigation and similar methods encourage use of large quantities of water, draining underground aquifers.

What is animal farming?

Industrial Animal Agriculture. Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), also known as factory farms, typically house thousands of animals, generating millions if not billions of gallons of animal waste per year .

Will water availability decrease in 2060?

By 2060, the USDA predicts that water availability for agriculture in all areas of the US will be significantly reduced, primarily because of climate change, but also due to current water use patterns. 58 The study predicts long-term yield declines for seven out of ten major grain crops, as a result.


Leave a Comment