What impact does agriculture have on the environment


How Farming Impacts the Environment

  • Soil Degradation. Growing the same crops year over year depletes the soil of its nutrients. …
  • Contamination of Water. When soil is damaged and water runoff occurs, that soil typically ends up in local water supplies. …
  • Pollution and Carbon Emissions. …
  • The Repercussions of Environmental Harm. …

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 some positive and negative impacts of Agriculture?

The Potential Negative Effects Of Agriculture On The Environment, & The Sustainable Use Of Resources

  • Summary – Potential Negative Effects Of Agriculture On The Environment, & The Sustainable Use Of Resource. …
  • Agriculture Impacts Many Different Aspects Of Society Overall. …
  • Key Variables That Can Contribute To Environmental & Sustainability Issues In Agriculture
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions & Climate Change. …
  • Deforestation, Land Clearing, & Change In Land Use

More items…

How can agriculture help fix 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

How do agricultural wastes harm the environment?

Agricultural operations and practices such as inappropriate water management and irrigation mainly lead to water pollution from surface run-off, both to surface and ground water. The use of fertilizers, pesticides, manure, herbicides and other agrochemicals lead to widespread contamination of waterways and ground waters and depreciate water quality.

How does agriculture impact our ecosystems?

Agriculture can have a massive impact on the ecosystems surrounding it. 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 …


How much does agriculture affect the environment?

Agriculture emits an estimated 10.5 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gases; however, agriculture also provides opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

What are the negative effects of agriculture?

Top 16 Negative Effects of Agriculture on the EnvironmentSoil/Land degradation.Deforestation.Biodiversity.Climate change.Pest problems.Industrial & agricultural waste.Irrigation.Livestock grazing.More items…•

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).

What is the relationship between agriculture and 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.

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.

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.

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 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 are the impacts of deforestation?

The impacts are:- 1. Degradation of Land 2. Deforestation 3. Biodiversity 4. Pest Problem 5. Disposal of Industrial & Agricultural Wastes. Impact # 1. Degradation of Land: The degradation of land in one form or the other is matter of serious concern endangering sustainability of agriculture.

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.

Why has the forest area in the recent past not changed much?

5. The forest area in the recent past has not changed much because its diversion for non-forestry purposes has been more or less compensated by afforestation. “The annual withdrawal of fuel wood is estimated at 235 million cubic meters against a sustainable capacity of about 48 million cubic meters.

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.

How does agriculture affect 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 …

What is the challenge of agriculture?

A key challenge for the agriculture sector is to feed an increasing global population, while at the same time reducing the environmental impact and preserving natural resources for future generations. Agriculture can have significant impacts on the environment.

How does the OECD help countries?

To help countries improve the sustainability of agriculture, the OECD has developed recommendations on how to develop cost-effective agri-environmental policies , how to manage water issues for agriculture, how to deal with climate change challenges, and how to preserve biodiversity and manage ecosystem services related to agriculture.

What are some of the best practices farmers have made?

Farmers have also made good progress in adopting more environmentally beneficial practices, such as conservation tillage, improved manure storage, or soil nutrient testing. Notwithstanding these improvements, there is still more to do, with an important role for policymakers.

Is nitrogen balance increasing in OECD countries?

Nitrogen balances are increasing in several OECD countries, farmland bird populations continue to decline and the sector’s contribution to water use and contamination is still high relative to other uses.

Is agriculture a part of the OECD?

In recent years, there have been some encouraging signs that the agriculture sector of OECD countries is capable of meeting its environmental challenges. In particular, farmers in many OECD countries have made improvements in the use and management of nutrients, pesticides, energy and water, using less of these inputs per unit of land.

How does urban agriculture help the environment?

Urban agriculture on a small scale can help to localize food production, reducing the overall environmental footprint of our modern food systems. Benefits include lower greenhouse gas emissions, minimal transportation requirements, and reduced energy use for food production.

What are some examples of agricultural systems?

For example, open meadow habitats are important for species like waterfowl, amphibians and for pollinators. Some species even increase in number due to agricultural activities.

How does rotational grazing affect biodiversity?

Through grazing for a limited time period in one area, biodiversity of native plants increases because grasses have time to regrow equally without one species taking over and becoming invasive.

Why do grasslands exist?

Grasslands provide habitat to a great number of animals and native plants. These areas have been almost entirely wiped out in other countries of Europe due to modern development or intensive agriculture. In Romania, however, they still exist because of the traditional (low-impact) way of farming and seasonal grazing of livestock by shepherds.

Why is maintaining land important?

Maintaining land for agricultural use can also prevent that land from being developed and urbanized, in areas where native species have difficulty finding original habitat. The United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) created seven voluntary land conservation programs for this purpose.

How do plants and trees help the aquifer?

Plants and trees in agricultural systems help to retain and add water to underground aquifers. This process is most effective when the crops being grown are perennials that continue to grow every year and have deep, well-established root systems.

What is the most dominant land use on the planet?

As time passed, agriculture became the most dominant land use on the planet, feeding a booming population and transforming natural habitats of many species. Whether the outcome of this change delivers negative or positive consequences depends largely on our approach. You may think it sounds counter-intuitive, but sustainable management …

How does agriculture affect the environment?

If this loading increases, as required to cover the increasing food demand, agriculture will adversely transform most of the remaining natural ecosystems of the world. Because the global environmental impact of agriculture on natural ecosystems may be as serious a problem as global climate change, the impacts of agriculture and the development of means to reduce these impacts merit considerably more study [1].

How can dairy farmers reduce their environmental impact?

The need to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture, including dairy production, requires changes in the management strategy and methods of production of dairy systems. Dairy farms need to be managed as ‘whole’ systems with the environmental impact of the system, sustainability and efficiency of production per unit of dairy product, and animal welfare standards, all being important factors. In the future, systems will need to be more sustainable and less reliant on the importation of purchased concentrate feeds. Many plant species can be grown on the farm to produce either forage or combinable grain crops with the potential to improve the energy or protein content of the diet. However, many of these species have not been evaluated fully or subjected to breeding programmes to improve their key traits and more research is required to exploit fully the potential of these plants. Globalisation and the removal of trade barriers indicate that the milk price paid to dairy farmers will continue to be low irrespective of whether the milk is destined for the liquid or processing markets. This trend suggests that dairy farmers may have to consider new strategies to ensure their businesses remain viable in the future. One option is to minimise costs by establishing larger dairy units where milk volume and low production costs are the key factors with the milk sold and marketed away from the farm. An alternative option that is increasingly being undertaken is to both produce and process the milk within the same business, with the marketing of the dairy products aimed at niche markets that will often be within the same geographical location as the dairy farm. Niche markets require high-quality products and further research is required to improve the shelf life of dairy products, enhance flavour and establish a closer link between the producer and consumer. This improves the understanding of the ‘whole system’ and boosts confidence in the benefits dairy products can provide in the human diet.

How did industrialization affect food production?

Industrialization allowed more land to be farmed in less time and increased the amount of food that could be produced per acre , making US farmers the most productive in the world.

What were the major environmental disasters that affected farmers?

Dust Bowl 1933–35. World War II 1941–45. Industrialization increased, farmers left farms for military service or work in defense. Farm crisis 1980s. Financial foreclosures of farms and banks, continued migration of farmers to cities.

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.

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.

Why is it important to adopt sound agricultural practices?

Therefore, adoption of sound agricultural practices is of primary importance to preserve soil health, reduce the environmental impact of agriculture, and reduce yield loss. In this chapter, a number of agricultural practices proposed as sustainable alternatives to conventional agriculture have been reviewed and assessed.


Freshwater is vital for farming as it drives both plant and animal production. Plant production depends on an adequate water supply, and animals require plants as a food source. In the drier regions of New Zealand, such as Canterbury, Marlborough and Central Otago, agricultural production is dependent on water from irrigators.


The development of reliable irrigation has large economic and community benefits, which have been clearly demonstrated by flow-on economic developments from the Opuha dam in South Canterbury
and from the North Otago Irrigation Scheme.

Point source pollution

Point source pollution has generally declined over the last 20 to 30 years as treatment system technology has been upgraded, and alternative methods of disposal have been developed, including applying effluent to land rather than discharging it into waterways.

Non-point source pollution

Whilst pollution from point sources has been decreasing over the last few decades, focus is now on reducing non-point source agricultural pollution. Point sources now account for only 3.2% of the total nitrogen and 1.8% of the total phosphorus fluxes to the sea.


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.

Stock grazing

Stock grazing in the areas around water bodies and in wetlands can contribute significantly to pollution. This is through direct nutrient enrichment and bacterial contamination of the water from faeces and urine damage vegetation. Stock can also decrease soil stability.

Stream modification

Streams have historically been modified in order to increase the workable area of farms. Such modifications can include culverting or piping the stream as well as diversions and realignments of the stream bed.

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 deforestation affect groundwater?

The decrease in groundwater: Water for irrigation is mostly supplied by rains and also rivers. Due to deforestation, the rains are minimal. Due to this, farmers rely on tube well or bore wells to irrigate their crops using groundwater. When widely used, the groundwater levels reduce.

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.

Why are seed companies important?

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.

Why is the pH of soil changing?

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.

Why do farmers wear masks?

During this use of pesticides, there is air pollution. Hence, farmers wear a face mask to avoid the chemical effects on them . But, this leads to air pollution, soil pollution. Further, if there are rivers beside, it can also lead to water pollution.

Is manure organic or chemical?

They enhance the yield and support the health and vitality of the plant. But, these manures can be natural, organic or even chemical. Natural manures include household kitchen waste, poultry waste, farm animal excreta, and crop waste, growing of nitrogen-fixing algae, bacteria, etc.

How does farming affect the ecosystem?

There are three main ways that farming affects ecosystems: irrigation, animal grazing, and fertilizers. Freshwater is stored in lakes, rivers, and underground. People use it for washing, drinking, and growing food.

How has agriculture helped the world?

Farming, or agriculture, has allowed the world’s population to grow. In the last 100 years, the world’s population has quadrupled. More people means that we need more space to grow food. In 2016, farmers used millions of square kilometers. They used it to grow grains like wheat and rice.

Why is farming so challenging?

It causes all kinds of changes in long-term weather patterns. These changes, like rainfall and drought, may make farming more challenging. Modern farming is also responsible for its own problems. Farmers often grow food in ways that are not sustainable.

How do fertilizers affect the environment?

Fertilizers have allowed farmers to grow much more food. They have also increased nitrogen and phosphorus in the environment. About half the nitrogen in fertilizers escapes from crop fields. It finds its way into soil, air, and water. Large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus harm ecosystems.


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