How much pollution does agriculture produce


In the United States, farms are responsible for more than 90 percent of airborne ammonia pollution, mostly from fertilizers and livestock manure. Meanwhile, the EPA estimates that the agricultural sector contributes about 9 percent of total US global warming emissions.

However, the emissions profile for agriculture differs from that of the economy as a whole. U.S. agriculture emitted an estimated 698 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide

Carbon dioxide is colorless. At low concentrations the gas is odorless; however, at sufficiently high concentrations, it has a sharp, acidic odor. At standard temperature and pressure, the density of carbon dioxide is around 1.98 kg/m3, about 1.53 times that of air. › wiki › Carbon_dioxide

equivalent in 2018: 12.3 percent as carbon dioxide, 36.2 percent as methane, and 51.4 percent as nitrous oxide.


How does pollution affect agriculture?

 · In 2012 livestock and poultry grown in the largest CAFOs in the United States produced 369 million tons of manure, or almost 13 times the waste of the entire U.S. population, according to an…

What are the effects of agricultural pollution?

21.3.3 Agricultural activities. Agriculture serves as a source of economic development for any country and sustains the livelihoods of the populace. Despite these important roles of agriculture, pollution still emanates from agricultural activities resulting in a number of health and environmental risks.

How has agriculture contributed to water pollution?

As at 2019, 14.5% of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions were due to agricultural global livestock emissions. From these total greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, around 65% are due to cattle farming. Overall, according to the EPA, agricultural processes are responsible for 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

How to prevent agricultural runoff?

 · Agricultural air pollution comes mainly in the form of ammonia, which enters the air as a gas from heavily fertilized fields and livestock waste. It then combines with pollutants from combustion—mainly nitrogen oxides and sulfates from vehicles, power plants and industrial processes—to create tiny solid particles, or aerosols, no more than 2.5 micrometers across, …


What percent of pollution is from agriculture?

Emissions and Trends In 2020, greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture economic sector accounted for 11% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture have increased by 6% since 1990.

Is agriculture a big polluter?

Agriculture accounts for 70% of water use, and yet counts as the world’s biggest polluter. How is this possible? Read our article and find out more about the causes and consequences. EU farms use 173 million hectares of land for agricultural production, while the U.S. farms use up to 370 million hectares.

How bad is agriculture for 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.

How does agriculture affect 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 does agriculture affect the US economy?

What is agriculture’s share of the overall U.S. economy? Agriculture, food, and related industries contributed $1.055 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, a 5.0-percent share. The output of America’s farms contributed $134.7 billion of this sum—about 0.6 percent of GDP.

What do we get from agriculture?

Agriculture provides most of the world’s food and fabrics. Cotton, wool, and leather are all agricultural products. Agriculture also provides wood for construction and paper products. These products, as well as the agricultural methods used, may vary from one part of the world to another.

Does the world produce enough food to feed the world?

Enough food is produced today to feed everyone on the planet, but hunger is on the rise in some parts of the world, and some 821 million people are considered to be “chronically undernourished”.

How many people are fed by US agriculture?

One U.S. farm feeds 166 people annually in the U.S. and abroad. The global population is expected to increase by 2.2 billion by 2050, which means the world’s farmers will have to grow about 70% more food than what is now produced. About 11% of U.S. farmers are serving or have served in the military.

What is agricultural pollution?

Agricultural pollution refers to biotic and abiotic byproducts of farming practices that result in contamination or degradation of the environment and surrounding ecosystems, and/or cause injury to humans and their economic interests. The pollution may come from a variety of sources, ranging from point source water pollution …

How do pollutants affect the environment?

Once in the environment these pollutants can have both direct effects in surrounding ecosystems, i.e. killing local wildlife or contaminating drinking water, and downstream effects such as dead zones caused by agricultural runoff is concentrated in large water bodies.

How does globalization affect agriculture?

The increasing globalization of agriculture has resulted in the accidental transport of pests, weeds, and diseases to novel ranges. If they establish, they become an invasive species that can impact populations of native species and threaten agricultural production. For example, the transport of bumble bees reared in Europe and shipped to the United States and/or Canada for use as commercial pollinators has led to the introduction of an Old World parasite to the New World. This introduction may play a role in recent native bumble bee declines in North America. Agriculturally introduced species can also hybridize with native species resulting in a decline in genetic biodiversity and threaten agricultural production.

What would happen if animals were removed from agriculture?

GHG emissions would be decreased by 2.6% only (or 28% of agricultural GHG emissions). This is because of the need replace animal manures by fertilizers and to replace also other animal coproducts, and because livestock now use human-inedible food and fiber processing byproducts. Moreover, people would suffer from a greater number of deficiencies in essential nutrients although they would get a greater excess of energy, possibly leading to greater obesity.

What are the effects of natural soil biogeochemical processes?

Natural soil biogeochemical processes result in the emission of various greenhouse gases, including nitrous oxide . Agricultural management practices can affect emission levels. For example, tillage levels have also been shown to affect nitrous oxide emissions.

What are the main inputs of heavy metals into agriculture?

lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury) into agricultural systems are fertilizers, organic wastes such as manures, and industrial byproduct wastes. Inorganic fertilizers especially represent an important pathway for heavy metals to enter soils. Some farming techniques, such as irrigation, can lead to accumulation of selenium (Se) that occurs naturally in the soil, which can result in downstream water reservoirs containing concentrations of selenium that are toxic to wildlife, livestock, and humans. This process is known as the “Kesterson Effect,” eponymously named after the Kesterson Reservoir in the San Joaquin Valley (California, USA), which was declared a toxic waste dump in 1987. Heavy metals present in the environment can be taken up by plants, which can pose health risks to humans in the event of consuming affected plants. Some metals are essential to plant growth, however an abundance can have adverse effects on plant health.

How do pesticides affect soil?

Pesticides and herbicides are applied to agricultural land to control pests that disrupt crop production. Soil contamination can occur when pesticides persist and accumulate in soils, which can alter microbial processes, increase plant uptake of the chemical, and are toxic to soil organisms. The extent to which the pesticides and herbicides persist depends on the compound’s unique chemistry, which affects sorption dynamics and resulting fate and transport in the soil environment. Pesticides can also accumulate in animals that eat contaminated pests and soil organisms. In addition, pesticides can be more harmful to beneficial insects, such as pollinators, and to natural enemies of pests (i.e. insects that prey on or parasitize pests) than they are to the target pests themselves.

What is agricultural air pollution?

Agricultural air pollution comes mainly in the form of ammonia (NH 3 ), which enters the air as a gas from heavily fertilized fields and livestock waste. It blows in over cities, reacts with emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and sulphur (SO 2 ) from traffic and industry, and leads to the formation of so-called secondary particles.

What is the main cause of air pollution?

Agriculture a major cause of air pollution. Food cultivation is the dominant source of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) in ambient air in Europe, the central US and parts of China, according to a new study from the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

Which air pollutant has the biggest reduction?

Overall air pollutant emissions keep on slowly shrinking – sulphur emissions show the biggest reductions, while there is much less improvement for ammonia and particulate matter.

How much will the EU reduce its emissions from meat?

Reducing consumption of meat, dairy and eggs by three quarters in the EU will lead to reductions of 44 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions from the food sector, but other efforts are also needed to reach a 2-degree target.

Which country has the highest level of agriculture-related PM?

In the US, agricultural emissions represented around half of the human caused emissions. China shows the highest level of agriculture-related PM in absolute figures, and slightly less than half of the anthropogenic PM pollution.

Where are intensive agriculture, traffic and industry most common?

The combination of intensive agriculture, traffic and industry is unfortunately quite typical for some of the most populated parts of North America, Europe and Asia, which means that these particles are formed where they can cause a lot of damage.

How much does 0.5 per cent of fuel oil reduce SO2 emissions?

Implementing the global rule to restrict the sulphur content in marine fuel oil to 0.5 per cent will cut shipping SO2 emissions by nearly 80 per cent and prevent more than 100,000 annual premature deaths.

How does agriculture contribute to pollution?

Agricultural pollution may be triggered by certain farming activities that tend to damage, contaminate, and degrade the environment and ecosystem. A source of pollution in farming is the burning of waste materials from agricultural activities such as land clearance, applying excessive fertilizer more than the plants’ requirement, and use of certain pest control chemicals that are nonbiodegradable. The aftermath of these processes includes the introduction of certain chemical substances into the food web, generation of smoke and PM, and destabilization of habitats. Furthermore, nitrates from agricultural processes are known chemical pollutants in groundwater aquifers. Eutrophication that occurs due to excess nutrients in water bodies is commonly related to fertilizers that are applied at a higher dose than they are required for the plants’ uptake. Excess nitrogen and phosphates can leach into surface water or groundwater through runoffs.

How does agriculture affect the environment?

Apart from pollution arising from cultivation of farmlands, rearing of terrestrial or aquatic animals also pollutes the environment. For instance, uneaten animal feeds or animal excreta may produce pungent odors with possible ill-health effects. More so, the quest for increased production of agricultural products for the sustenance of an ever-increasing population has encouraged the use of antifouling agents, antibiotics, and fungicides in farming, which in turn exacerbate the pollution of the ecosystem. Although agriculture is a basic necessity for human beings and is required to feed the human population, pollution resulting from agricultural activities should be of utmost concern.

How does spatial variation affect environmental regulation?

Spatial variation in required pollution reduction could increase the cost effectiveness of regulations aimed at agricultural pollution; the targeting described in the section ‘Spatial Variation in Resource Characteristics’ for land retirement in agricultural settings is equally useful when the problem is the design of environmental regulations. There is also a refrain in environmental economics insisting that uniform pollution standards (such as the ambient air quality standards put forth by the Clean Air Act) cannot be efficient because they do not vary at all with the variation in cost and benefit curves that must surely exist across different parts of the United States.

How do subsidies affect water quality?

While subsidies can achieve efficient levels of action by polluters, they also make polluting activities more profitable overall and attract entrants into the polluting industry, offsetting the marginal incentives to reduce pollution. It is difficult to know whether the overall effect on water-quality is positive or negative. If the additional land that is farmed or chemicals that are applied is especially prone to cause water-quality problems, the overall effect could be negative.

What are the challenges of agriculture?

Weather is a primary driver of agricultural pollution events. During the growing season, intense rainfall events, occurring when there is little vegetative cover, chemicals have recently been applied, or waste lagoons are already full , are disproportionately responsible for large pollution events. This temporal variability means that policies need to allow for varying rates of pollution over time. Spatial variation of landscape and soil conditions causes runoff and infiltration rates and resulting pollution loads to vary in dissimilar locations even if weather conditions do not. Spatial variation in soils and weather also influence crop and livestock systems and appropriate technologies for pollution control. Spatial heterogeneity implies that efficient policies will allow pollution and abatement actions to differ from place to place.

How to achieve efficiency in pollution control?

The textbook principle for efficiency in pollution control is to implement pollution controls up to the point where the marginal cost equals the marginal benefit of reduced ambient pollution, and to allocate control responsibilities among polluters in a way that equalizes the marginal costs of abatement across sources. Economists have demonstrated that various types of economic instruments can achieve this end when polluting emissions can be easily metered, the emissions are not stochastic, and when spatial heterogeneity of polluter’s impacts on the environment is limited.

Is mining a source of pollution?

Old mines and associated spoil heaps and processing areas can be significant sources of pollution of the water environment. There is a substantial history of mining for most minerals and metals throughout the world. It is therefore valuable to consider whether there may be any water contamination from this source that may affect the pollution status of an SFRB ( Shepherd et al., 2009 ).

What are the causes of agricultural pollution?

List of the most important Agricultural Pollution Facts & Stats. Agricultural pollution is often due to excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides. Fertilizers and pesticides often contain many harmful substances, including Cadmium, Fluoride, heavy metals and even radioactive components, which may pollute our soil and groundwater …

How does agriculture affect air pollution?

Agricultural contamination also contributes to air pollution since in big agricultural companies, a significant number of machines are used which emit large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Why is it important to have stricter regulations when it comes to agricultural practices on a global scale?

It is crucial that there have to be stricter regulations when it comes to agricultural practices on a global scale in order to fight agricultural pollution.

How does agriculture affect human health?

Agricultural pollution can lead to severe human health effects. This could be due to antibiotic resistance or also through the contamination of the groundwater which humans will eventually drink through the use of tap water.

What are the effects of land management?

Inappropriate land management may lead to a loss of fertility and therefore to a long-term reduction in crop yields. Agriculture is responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gases on a global scale, especially for the emission of methane. Agricultural pollution can lead to severe human health effects.

How does contaminated water affect agriculture?

The use of contaminated water in agriculture can lead to agricultural pollution and also to groundwater and soil pollution. Improper animal management may also contribute to agricultural contamination since often, large numbers of animals are kept on a relatively small space, which may in turn lead to the use of excessive amounts …

Can antibiotics cause pollution?

However, the use of antibiotics may turn into health issues for humans since we may become antibiotic-resistant if we eat this kind of meat. Manure can lead to significant agricultural pollution and may eventually also turn into groundwater pollution if it is not treated in a proper manner.

What is the main source of air pollution in agriculture?

Agricultural air pollution comes mainly in the form of ammonia, which enters the air as a gas from heavily fertilized fields and livestock waste.

What are the causes of air pollution?

Fumes from nitrogen-rich fertilizers and animal waste combine in the air with combustion emissions to form solid particles in the air. These aerosols outweigh all other human sources of fine-particulate air pollution in much of the United States, Europe, Russia and China, according to new research.

How long does it take to get a PDF of an article from AGU?

After 30 days, journalists and public information officers (PIOs) of educational and scientific institutions who have registered with AGU can download a PDF copy of the article from the same link.

How far will ammonia end up in the atmosphere?

If future industrial emissions do go down, much farm-produced ammonia will end up in Earth’s troposphere, roughly 2 to 10 kilometers (1 to 6 miles) above the surface , Bauer said. There, lightning and other natural processes may also help create fine particulates, but most of these particles would be trapped by raindrops and harmlessly removed from the atmosphere, she said.

Do agricultural emissions make aerosols?

The fact that agricultural emissions must combine with other pollutants to make aerosols is good news, according to Bauer. Most projections say tighter regulations, cleaner sources of electricity and higher-mileage vehicles will cut industrial emissions enough by the end of this century that farm emissions will be starved of the other ingredients necessary to create aerosols, she said.

Is agriculture a source of fine particles?

Many regional studies , especially in the United States, have shown agricultural pollution to be a prime source of fine-particulate precursors, but the new study is one of the first to look at the phenomenon worldwide and to project future trends. The study’s results show more than half the aerosols in much of the eastern and central United States come from farming.

How many people die from aerosols?

Aerosols can penetrate deep into lungs, causing heart or pulmonary disease. A 2015 study in the journal Nature estimates they cause at least 3.3 million deaths each year globally, and a recent study in Geophysical Research Letters found they cause over 500,000 annual deaths in India alone.

What is agricultural air pollution?

Agricultural air pollution comes mainly in the form of ammonia, which enters the air as a gas from heavily fertilized fields and livestock waste.

How much fertilizer is produced today?

Production of artificial fertilizers has skyrocketed from about 20 million tons in 1950 to nearly 190 million tons today–about a third of them nitrogen-based. Fertilizer production will almost certainly keep growing to keep pace with human population, but the amount of aerosols created as a result depends on many factors, including air temperature, precipitation, season, time of day, wind patterns and of course the other needed ingredients from industrial or natural sources. (In parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, aerosols or their precursors come mainly from desert dust, sea spray or wildfires.) The largest increases in farm emissions will probably be in Africa, while the slowest projected growth rates are in Europe, says the study.

What is the impact of fertilizer on the environment?

Heavy use of fertilizers is a major contributor to fine-particulate air pollution in much of the United States, Europe, Russia and China. (Courtesy U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Does ammonia affect air quality?

Fabien Paulot, an atmospheric chemist with Princeton University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who was not involved in the study, said, “You might expect air quality would decline if ammonia emissions go up, but this shows it won’t happen, provided the emissions from combustion go down.” That means that pollutants other than ammonia should probably be targeted for abatement, he said.

Do agricultural emissions make aerosols?

The fact that agricultural emissions must combine with other pol lutants to make aerosols “is good news,” said Bauer. Most projections say that tighter regulation, cleaner sources of electricity and higher-mileage vehicles will cut industrial emissions enough by the end of this century that farm emissions will be starved of the other ingredients necessary to create aerosols. A study this January showed that global industrial nitrogen oxide emissions declined from 2005 to 2014, even as farm emissions boomed. (Fast-growing China and India are exceptions.)

What are the effects of agricultural soil management?

Various management practices on agricultural soils can lead to increased availability of nitrogen in the soil and result in emissions of nitrous oxide (N 2 O). Specific activities that contribute to N 2 O emissions from agricultural lands include the application of synthetic and organic fertilizers, the growth of nitrogen-fixing crops, the drainage of organic soils, and irrigation practices. Management of agricultural soils accounts for just over half of the greenhouse gas emissions from the Agriculture economic sector.*

What are the effects of electricity on the environment?

greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from commercial and residential buildings also increase substantially when emissions from electricity end-use are included , due to the relatively large share of electricity use (e.g., heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; lighting; and appliances) in these sectors. The transportation sector currently has a relatively low percentage of electricity use but it is growing due to the use of electric and plug-in vehicles.

When did electricity emissions decrease?

Additionally, indirect emissions from electricity use by homes and businesses increased from 1990 to 2007, but have decreased since then to approximately 1990 levels in 2019. All emission estimates from the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–2019. Larger image to save or print.

What is the industrial sector?

The Industry sector produces the goods and raw materials we use every day. The greenhouse gases emitted during industrial production are split into two categories: direct emissions that are produced at the facility, and indirect emissions that occur off site, but are associated with the facility’s use of electricity.

How much did the EPA save in energy?

EPA’s ENERGY STAR® Exit partners avoided over 330 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2018 alone, helped Americans save over $35 billion in energy costs, and reduced electricity use by 430 billion kWh. Nuclear Energy. Generating electricity from nuclear energy rather than the combustion of fossil fuels.

Is electricity used by other sectors?

Electricity is used by other sectors—in homes, businesses, and factories. Therefore, it is possible to attribute the greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation to the sectors that use the electricity. Looking at greenhouse gas emissions by end-use sector can help us understand energy demand across sectors and changes in energy use over time.

What is the most carbon intensive source of electricity?

Coal combustion is more carbon intensive than burning natural gas or petroleum for electricity. Although coal use accounted for about 61 percent of CO 2 emissions from the sector, it represented only 24 percent of the electricity generated in the United States in 2019. Natural gas use accounted for 37 percent of electricity generation in 2019, and petroleum use accounted for less than one percent. The remaining generation in 2019 came from non-fossil fuel sources, including nuclear (20 percent) and renewable energy sources (18 percent), which include hydroelectricity, biomass, wind, and solar. 1 Most of these non-fossil sources, such as nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, and solar, are non-emitting.

Which country has the highest food emissions?

In the map we see the share of global food emissions that are produced in each country. The largest emitters are countries that we might expect, either because they have a large population size or are large agricultural producers. There are five countries which each contribute more than 5% to global emissions: China (13.8%); Indonesia (8.8%); United States (8.2%); Brazil (7.4%); and India (6.3%). There is then a large gap between the top five and the rest. Russia is next, but accounts for just 2.6%. [You can see each country’s emissions in absolute terms here].

What are the main sources of methane?

Livestock – animals raised for meat, dairy, eggs and seafood production – contribute to emissions in several ways. Ruminant livestock – mainly cattle – for example, produce methane through their digestive processes (in a process known as ‘enteric fermentation’).

Is it true that food is transported by plane?

This is certainly true for foods that are transported by plane. But the reality is that very little of our food is.

What is the main cause of eutrophication?

Eutrophication – the pollution of water bodies and ecosystems with excess nutrients – is a major environmental problem. The runoff of nitrogen and other nutrients from agricultural production systems is a leading contributor.

What is the water footprint of food?

The water footprint of food products gives a useful indicator of their environmental impact. But freshwater scarcity varies across the world: some regions have abundant water resources (meaning agricultural water demands have little impact) whilst others experience severe water stress.#N#We can also look at water footprints in terms of scarcity-weighted freshwater use. Scarcity-weighted water use represents freshwater use weighted by local water scarcity.

Is the impact of transport small?

The impact of transport is small for most products, but there is one exception: those which travel by air.

How much of the world’s calories are thrown away?

Around one-quarter of the calories the world produces are thrown away; they’re spoiled or spilled in supply chains; or are wasted by retailers, restaurants and consumers. 44 To produce this food we need land, water, energy, and fertilizer inputs. It all comes at an environmental cost.


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