What are the major harmful environmental impacts of agriculture


  • This environmental impact of agriculture is the effect of various farming practices, and it can vary greatly depending on the country we are looking at.
  • Many critical environmental issues are tied to agriculture, such as climate change, dead zones, genetic engineering, pollutants, deforestation, soil degradation, waste, and many others.
  • Deforestation is a big side effect of agriculture that greatly impacts our planet and the environment. …
  • Irrigation, the process of applying controlled amounts of water to plants, can also create various problems for the environment. …

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.

What is the impact of farming on the environment?

  • Nutrient deficiency.
  • Nutrient imbalance particularly micro- nutrients.
  • Loss of organic matter.
  • Water and wind erosion.
  • Lowering of the ground water table.
  • Soil salination.
  • Groundwater contamination due to the high use of nitrogen.

How does agriculture effect the environment?

  • Production of sufficient human food, feed, fiber, and fuel to meet the needs of a sharply rising population
  • Protection of the environment and expansion of the natural resources supply
  • Sustainment of the economic viability of agriculture systems

What are the negative impacts of Agriculture?

Top 16 Negative Effects of Agriculture on the Environment

  • Soil/Land degradation
  • Deforestation
  • Biodiversity
  • Climate change
  • Pest problems
  • Industrial & agricultural waste
  • Irrigation
  • Livestock grazing
  • Chemical fertilizer
  • Point source pollution

More items…

How does agriculture affect the US economy?

agriculture therefore spurs the growth of entire economies and stimulates demand for U.S. exports. Exports and Jobs In 2018, U.S. agricultural exports totaled $140 billion, with developing countries accounting for $90 billion, or nearly two-thirds of total agricultural exports.


What are the harmful environmental impacts caused by agriculture?

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 major harmful environmental impacts of agriculture quizlet?

Soil: Erosion, Loss of Fertility, Salination, Waterlogging, Desertification. Water: Aquifer depletion, Increased runoff, pesticide pollution, Algae blooms from Fertilizers. Air Pollution: Emission fo greenhouse gasses CO2 N2O CH4 (Methane).

What are the positive and negative impacts of agriculture on the environment?

While negative impacts are serious, and can include pollution and degradation of soil, water, and air, agriculture can also positively impact the environment, for instance by trapping greenhouse gases within crops and soils, or mitigating flood risks through the adoption of certain farming practices.

What are the impacts of modern agriculture on environment?

Modern agriculture converted an increasing portion of the earth’s land surface to monoculture, the genetic and ecological diversity of the planet erodes. Both the conversion of diverse natural ecosystems to new agricultural lands and the narrowing of the genetic diversity of crops contribute to this soil erosion.

Which changes are environmental effects of farming quizlet?

Environmental effects of agricultural land use include pollution, land cover change, desertification, soil salinization, and conservation efforts.

What are some problems associated with agriculture quizlet?

Terms in this set (7)Declining biodiversity. seed companies focus on a few varieties for farmers (high yielding, easier to harvest, resistant to disease) … soil erosion. … salinization. … desertification. … fertilizer pollution. … pesticide pollination. … World food problems: solutions.

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.

What are the negative impacts of agriculture on soil?

Deterioration of soil quality and reduction in agricultural productivity due to nutrient depletion, organic matter losses, erosion and compaction. Pollution of soil and water through the over use of fertilizers and the improper use and disposal of animal wastes.

What are the impacts of agriculture to the society?

The result is that agriculture globally exerts increasing pressure on the land and water resources of the earth, which often results in land degradation (such as soil erosion and salinization), and eutrophication. Agriculture is also associated with greenhouse gas emissions (Kirchmann and Thorvaldsson 2000).

How do agricultural wastes harm the environment?

In many parts in developing countries, agricultural solid wastes are indiscriminately dumped or burnt in public places, thereby resulting in the generation of air pollution, soil contamination, a harmful gas, smoke and dust and the residue may be channeled into a water source thereby polluting the water and aquatic …

What are the negative impact of modern farming?

Positive and negative impacts of modern farming technologyPositiveNegativeIncreased profit for the farmerIncrease in noise pollutionLess physical work for peopleFewer jobs availableFewer workers so less wages for farmer to payAs people become unemployed, they move away to find work leading to rural depopulation2 more rows

How has agriculture increased?

Agricultural methods have intensified continuously ever since the Industrial Revolution, and even more so since the “green revolution” in the middle decades of the 20 th century. At each stage, innovations in farming techniques brought about huge increases in crop yields by area of arable land. This tremendous rise in food production has sustained a global population that has quadrupled in size over the span of one century. As the human population continues to grow, so too has the amount of space dedicated to feeding it. According to World Bank figures, in 2016, more than 700 million hectares (1.7 billion acres) were devoted to growing corn, wheat, rice, and other staple cereal grains—nearly half of all cultivated land on the planet.

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.

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 much of the world’s freshwater is consumed by agriculture?

Worldwide, agriculture accounts for 70 percent of human freshwater consumption. A great deal of this water is redirected onto cropland through irrigation schemes of varying kinds. Experts predict that to keep a growing population fed, water extraction may increase an additional 15 percent or more by 2050. Irrigation supports the large harvest yields that such a large population demands. Many of the world’s most productive agricultural regions, from California’s Central Valley to Southern Europe’s arid Mediterranean basin, have become economically dependent on heavy irrigation.

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.

What are the consequences of irrigation?

One of the most obvious consequences is the depletion of aquifers, river systems, and downstream ground water. However, there are a number of other negative effects related to irrigation.

How much land is used for growing corn?

According to World Bank figures, in 2016, more than 700 million hectares (1.7 billion acres) were devoted to growing corn, wheat, rice, and other staple cereal grains—nearly half of all cultivated land on the planet.

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 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.

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.

How much of the world is at risk of pesticides?

Environmental modelling indicates that globally over 60% of global agricultural land (~24.5 million km²) is “at risk of pesticide pollution by more than one active ingredient”, and that over 30% is at “high risk” of which a third are in high-biodiversity regions. Each pesticide or pesticide class comes with a specific set of environmental concerns. Such undesirable effects have led many pesticides to be banned, while regulations have limited and/or reduced the use of others. The global spread of pesticide use, including the use of older/obsolete pesticides that have been banned in some jurisdictions, has increased overall.

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.

What are bad management practices?

Bad management practices include poorly managed animal feeding operations, overgrazing, plowing, fertilizer, and improper, excessive, or badly timed use of pesticides.

What are the factors that contribute to the loss of biodiversity?

The 2006 report Livestock’s Long Shadow, released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, states that “the livestock sector is a major stressor on many ecosystems and on the planet as a whole. Globally it is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases (GHG) and one of the leading causal factors in the loss of biodiversity, and in developed and emerging countries it is perhaps the leading source of water pollution .”

How does agriculture affect the environment?

The following points highlight the five main impacts of agriculture on environment. The impacts are:- 1. Degradation of Land 2. Deforestation 3. Biodiversity 4. Pest Problem 5. Disposal of Industrial & Agricultural Wastes.

How does mechanisation affect agriculture?

The mechanisation of agriculture require various energy resources such as diesel, electricity, petrol etc. Moreover, higher use of fertilizers as well, has negative impact on the ecology of the country by air pollution.

What is the degradation of land in one form or the other?

The degradation of land in one form or the other is matter of serious concern endangering sustainability of agriculture. Landslides caused by rains and flowing water in hilly areas and deforestation, overgrazing and faulty cultural practices in the forest and other plain areas expose the soil to water and wind erosions. As may be seen from Table. 1, out of total geographical area, 141.3 million hectare (10.3 per cent) area is subject to such water and wind erosions.

What is the pest problem?

Pest Problem: With the shift in crop pattern, increase in area under irrigation and higher cropping intensity, the pest problem has become very severe. The seriousness of pests has further increased by way of indiscriminate and increased use of pesticides.

What are the causes of toxicity in plants and animals?

Affluent water, smoke and un-degradable solid waste from industries and domestic uses have also been responsible for toxicity in plant and animal particularly fish and unbalanced soil nutrients which needs to be checked through treatment plants. Impact, Agriculture, Environment, Impact of Agriculture.

What are the main reasons for decline in forest wealth?

The main reasons for decline in forest wealth are: 1. Increase in population resulting in more demand for fuel wood and timber. 3. Indiscriminate siting of development projects.

What are the environmental problems caused by the depletion of vegetative cover?

The depletion of vegetative cover such as grass lands and forest tree species and similarly extinction of wild animals, birds and insects is matter of concern. According to another estimate, over 1,500 plant species, 79 mammals, 44 birds, 15 reptiles, 3 amphibians and several insects are listed as endangered.

How does agriculture affect the environment?

The Potential Negative Effects Of Agriculture On The Environment, & The Sustainable Use Of Resources. Agriculture has a positive impact on the economy, provides employment and income, and provides food and fibre production, just as a few examples of it’s benefits. But, there can be some downsides to agricultural production as well.

What are the issues related to livestock?

Issues related to livestock specifically, such as overgrazing, waste (like manure), and emissions (burping, farting, etc) Intensive or unsustainable farming practices which don’t consider long term soil health, topsoil, and other potential long term consequences.

What are some examples of land degradation?

Two examples of causes might be: – the damage done to land by ruminants such as cattle from overgrazing … leading to land degradation and topsoil erosion. – and, agricultural chemicals such as synthetic fertilizers that contain reactive nitrogen … leading to different types of pollution, such as water pollution.

What are the key variables that contribute to environmental sustainability?

Key Variables That Can Contribute To Environmental & Sustainability Issues In Agriculture. The clearing of land and forests, and conversion into farms and ranches. The use of synthetic fertilizers like nitrogen (that contain reactive nitrogen), phosphorus and potash fertilizers.

How much of the world’s rangelands were damaged by overgrazing?

wikipedia.org lists the forms and effects of land/soil degradation from agriculture in their resource. Overgrazing: More than 60% of the world’s rangelands were damaged by overgrazing during the past half century. As much as 85% of rangeland in the western US is being degraded by overgrazing.

What are the causes of water pollution?

Pollution – Water Pollution, Air Pollution, & Land Pollution. There’s a range of ways agriculture can cause pollution, such as: – Water Pollution. Agriculture is one of the leading causes of water pollution in the world – in particular nutrient pollution of nitrates and phosphates.

How much of the world’s land is used for agriculture?

About 50% of the habitable land on earth is being used for agriculture. However, compared to crops, livestock uses up a disproportionate amount of land compared to the % of the world’s caloric and protein supply that is supplies.

How does pollution affect waterways?

Nutrient pollution from runoff is increased where drains like mole and tile systems are used to dry out pasture-land. These work in clay soils and are common in Otago and Southland. They use perforated plastic tubing s unk at a depth of about 50 centimetres to carry water from pasture into larger drains.

How does removal of a hill affect the forest?

The removal of hill and riparian forests for agricultural pasture increases the amount of rainfall running off the land into streams and rivers. The tree canopy in a mid-latitude forest typically intercepts and then evaporates away up to one third of the rain that falls on that canopy, effectively reducing the rain that reaches the ground. Canopy interception losses are a function of effective leaf area and canopy roughness, and in west coast locations with frequent rain, can be significantly greater than water losses to transpiration (water drawn up through the tree roots via photosynthesis). There is little difference in canopy interception losses between native and exotic forests, tall manuka and kanuka or dense infestations of gorse or broom, provided that a closed canopy exists.

Why do farmers invest in water?

Each year, farmers make significant on-farm investments in order to optimise their use of water and reduce their overall impact on the quality and quantity of waterways and waterbodies. These investments include improvements in irrigation system efficiency, effluent management (including effluent storage systems), riparian management and staff education and training. There is still a lot more work to ensure all New Zealand freshwater is of a suitable quality and quantity.

Why is biodiversity important on productive land?

The most pressing issues facing the protection and restoration of native biodiversity on productive land are invasive weeds and pest animals accelerating land use change, and the high level of agro-chemical inputs. All of these are driving farmland towards a low diversity environment. While rural landowners also desire to achieve financial returns from their land, it is important that biodiversity on productive land is protected, because of the essential ecosystem services it provides. This is becomingly increasingly accepted by landowners, stakeholders and councils alike.

What are the conditions for aquatic life in New Zealand?

Most aquatic life in New Zealand’s waterways developed in heavily shaded forest conditions. When vegetation is removed from the banks of waterways, the amount of available shade is decreased so the temperature of the water increases, as does the growth of algae and aquatic weeds. Oxygen levels in the water also reduce as the temperature rises. This makes conditions for native aquatic life less than optimal. Riparian areas are also an important habitat for many types of native fauna, whose habitat may be destroyed by the removal of the vegetation.

What happens to the soil when it is replaced by grass?

When forest is replaced by short-rooted pasture grass, increased amounts of rainfall are allowed to run off the land. In the absence of tree roots to hold the soil together, greater amounts of sediment made up of inorganic matter (rock and soil) and organic matter (mostly animal faeces), are washed from the land into groundwater, streams, rivers and wetlands.

Why is water storage important for irrigation?

Reliable and secure water supply combined with well-managed irrigation practices are key to ensuring good environmental outcomes.

What is sustainable agriculture?

The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform explains that sustainable agriculture “is the efficient production of safe, high quality agricultural products, in a way that protects and improves the natural environment, the social and economic conditions of farmers, their employees and local communities, and safeguards the health and welfare of all farmed species.” Collectively, these goals are in place to ensure food security for all. Specifically, however, these goals deserve careful attention to guarantee we reach sustainability. While each carry significant weight in delivering sustainable results, attention to the environment encourages us to ponder the ways in which we can give back to nature in the way that it has given to us. To be sure, sustainable agriculture should improve the environment from which it grows.

How does food security help the environment?

The World Food Bank makes efforts to positively impact the environment through improved storage methods, reducing post-harvest loss through conscious integration of all sectors within our global agriculture systems. This helps to create a balanced and mutually-beneficial ecosystem that lifts smallholder farmers out of poverty, allowing for the efficient distribution of food to those who need it without detrimental environmental impacts.

How does agriculture affect the Earth?

Agriculture production is the major driver of destabilizing the earth system towards or over the boundary of a safe operating space for humanity ( Rockström et al., 2009a, b ). Five of the nine planetary boundaries ( Steffen et al., 2015) are either at high risk (biosphere integrity, biogeochemical flows) or at increasing risk (land system change, fresh water use, global warming). Agriculture also contributes to changes in remaining planetary boundaries, which are still in the safe zone ( Campbell et al., 2017 ).

What are the factors that influenced the development of agriculture in the United States?

Many factors have influenced the progression of agriculture in the United States and created the system we have today. Key historical events including war and economic and environmental disasters were instrumental in deciding how and where food is produced ( Table 2.1 ). Understanding how US agriculture developed is important to inform future decisions about the food system.

Why has the percentage of the US population engaged in farming declined significantly since 1900?

The percentage of the US population that is engaged in farming has declined significantly since 1900 due to mechanization and consolidation of farming operations.

How has agriculture changed over time?

2.19 ). Mechanization, enhanced understanding of genetics, plant and animal breeding, and use of fertilizers, pesticides, and animal medications have led to increased productivity without an overall expansion in the amount of land used in agriculture . However, how and where we farm has changed across the United States. A comparison of the history of agriculture in two states tells the story of farming in the United States.

What do North Carolina farmers produce?

North Carolina farmers produce about half of the tobacco produced in the United States and contribute to animal food production. Source: USDA, National Agricultural Statistics, 2007 Census of Agriculture, US Census Bureau 2012, www.agcensus.usda.gov. Settlement in Iowa by European Americans began in the early 1800s.

How has agriculture evolved?

The evolution of agriculture within the states has been influenced by social, economic, and political factors. Each of the 50 states has a history of agriculture production that is interwoven with the culture and people of that state. A comparison of two states, Iowa and North Carolina, illustrates the differing progression of agriculture in states of similar land size.

What was the 1980s farm crisis?

Farm crisis 1980s. Financial foreclosures of farms and banks, continued migration of farmers to cities. Within the roughly 500 years since the colonization of the United States, agriculture has evolved and changed dramatically.

How does artificial farming affect the environment?

Besides the environment, it also affects the health of humans and other animals as they are directly dependent on it for food. So, agriculture is one of the precious means of work and has to be done with ethics.

How does the soil affect the environment?

Due to the widespread use of chemicals, this natural living system is affected. Bacteria in the soil tend to decay the waste and enhance soil fertility. But when the pH is changed, they are unable to survive; this leads to the destruction of environmental diversity and balance.

What is the use of manure?

That is the heavy use of chemical manures and pesticides. Manures are the materials that are needed for the growth of crops and plants. They enhance the yield and support the health and vitality of the plant. But, these manures can be natural, organic or even chemical.

What pesticides do farmers use?

To control this, farmers again use chemical pesticides which are mostly organophosphorus compounds or cyanide containing ones .

What are the three types of pollution?

6. Destruction of natural species. Pollution: Agriculture leads to three type of pollution like. Air pollution. Soil pollution. Water pollution. All these three forms of pollution are again due to a single cause. That is the heavy use of chemical manures and pesticides.

Why are natural species extinct?

With, the entry of seed companies into the field, the natural species are getting extinct. The seed companies introduce the techniques of biotechnology to enhance disease resistance, drought resistance etc. In doing so, the farmers become dependent on these seeds. The natural seeds are extinct in many places. These seeds produced by the company may give rise to high crop yield. But, the seeds from these crops are not strong enough to germinate if sown back in the soil for the next crop. So, there is a loss of natural species and also natural means of cultivation.

How does food contamination affect the body?

Once, they get into the body; they alter the hormonal secretions and nervous system . Since these are vital body systems; the health of the individual is affected over time.

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.

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].

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.



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)
• Digital Product Passport

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
• Waterlog.info Website with free articles and software on environmental impacts of irrigated agriculture like waterlogging and salinization

Agriculture Impacts Many Different Aspects of Society Overall

Greenhouse Gas Emissions & Climate Change

Deforestation, Land Clearing, & Change in Land Use

Land Degradation, & Soil Degradation

Pollution – Water Pollution, Air Pollution, & Land Pollution

  • There’s a range of ways agriculture can cause pollution, such as: – Water Pollution Agriculture is one of the leading causes of water pollution in the world – in particular nutrient pollution of nitrates and phosphates. Both ground water sources (like aquifers), and surface water sources (like streams, rivers, lakes, etc) can be contaminated. Water…

See more on bettermeetsreality.com

General Waste Generation, & Also General Waste Pollution

Use of Resources

Genetic Engineering & The Use of GMOs in Agriculture

A Few Other Notes on Agriculture

Other Potential Effects of Agriculture

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