What is the environmental impact of agriculture


2.10 Progress in US Agriculture

Event and year Impact
First colonial settlements in Virginia 1 … Individual land ownership and start of a …
World War I 1914–18 Development of chemical pesticides
Great Depression 1929–41 New Deal policies created farm policies …
Drought 1932–40 Environmental disaster brought new socia …

Apr 16 2022

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


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 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…

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.

Does agriculture harm 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 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…•

Does agriculture ruin the environment?

Agricultural livestock are responsible for a large proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions, most notably methane. In addition, overgrazing is a major problem regarding environmental sustainability. In some places, stretches of forage land are consumed so extensively that grasses are unable to regenerate.

What are five environmental effects of agriculture?

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 agriculture and society?

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.

How agriculture causes global warming?

Agriculture contributes to climate change At every stage, food provisioning releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Farming in particular releases significant amounts of methane and nitrous oxide, two powerful greenhouse gases.

How can we reduce the environmental impact of agriculture?

Soil conservation methods, such as contour planting or no-till farming, reduce levels of soil erosion, as these methods help to keep the soil in place during heavy rains or floods, which is an increasing concern due to climate change.

What are the environmental impacts of industrial agriculture?

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.

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.

What is sustainable intensification?

Sustainable intensification has been defined as “simultaneously raising productivity, increasing resource use efficiency , and reducing negative environmental impacts of agriculture” ( Bolton and Crute, 2011 ). For example, De Klein et al. (2012) identified, through modeling of a database of farm system information, that by incorporating targeted mitigation strategies into pastoral dairy production systems increases in milk production without a concomitant increase in nitrogen leaching and greenhouse gas emissions is theoretically possible and needs to be tested in the field. Currently, there are few catchmentscale examples that demonstrate increased production and economic wealth while simultaneously maintaining highquality surface waters in intensive agricultural settings, highlighting that sustainable intensification remains a continuing challenge.

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.

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.

What are the impacts of food?

The visualization here shows a summary of some of the main global impacts: 1 Food accounts for over a quarter (26%) of global greenhouse gas emissions 1; 2 Half of the world’s habitable (ice- and desert-free) land is used for agriculture; 3 70% of global freshwater withdrawals are used for agriculture 2; 4 78% of global ocean and freshwater eutrophication (the pollution of waterways with nutrient-rich pollutants) is caused by agriculture 3; 5 94% of mammal biomass (excluding humans) is livestock. This means livestock outweigh wild mammals by a factor of 15-to-1. 4 Of the 28,000 species evaluated to be threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red List, agriculture and aquaculture is listed as a threat for 24,000 of them. 5

What percentage of the world’s land is used for agriculture?

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; 78% of global ocean and freshwater eutrophication (the pollution of waterways with nutrient-rich pollutants) is caused by agriculture 3; 94% of mammal biomass (excluding humans) is livestock.

Why is food important?

Food, therefore, lies at the heart of trying to tackle climate change, reducing water stress, pollution, restoring lands back to forests or grasslands, and protecting the world’s wildlife.

Four main impacts of agriculture on the environment

The degradation of land in one form or the other is a 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 erosion.


There is need for identification and implementation of better management practices for agriculture. There is also need to create financial incentives to encourage biodiversity conservation, improve agricultural policies, and identify new income opportunities for producers.


While there is unlikely to be a “one-size-fits-all” solution for dealing with environmental concerns in agriculture, as agro-ecological conditions and public preferences differ across countries, policymakers must have at their disposal a deep understanding of, and capacity to measure, the linkages between policies and outcomes in order to evaluate and achieve better environmental outcomes in a cost-effective manner.

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 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.

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 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.

How does agriculture affect the environment?

One of the largest side effects of increased industrial agriculture has been the rise of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases. As many know, the recent rise in climate awareness has begun to surge, creating an in depth look into the affect of new wave agriculture. The use of modern machines such as tractors and harvesters are one of the biggest culprits behind carbon emissions. The reason these machines produce so many carbon emissions is because of their use of fossil fuels which create large amounts of pollution. As professionals have claimed, “United States agriculture emits 698 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide in the year 2018” (Hofstrand & Takle). Much of this pollution coming form agricultural machines producing around 45 to 65 percent of the total pollution emitted. The large-scale introduction of agricultural machines introduced in the industrial periods of America have been more focused on high yield outputs rather that energy efficiency. This means that the main goals for farming have been on producing mass quantities of stock and putting in less thought into the energy that affects. With this goal in site, the problem only worsens, creating a bigger deficit on the ratio between energy input versus energy output, as stated by Mosely et al. The more industrial agriculture grows, the larger the energy intensity will be and the higher the inefficiency will get. Thus, creating a large surge in fossil fuel activity to maintain the growing fleet of machines that produce the supply of agriculture needs. This problem is caused by a very distinct concept that largely coincided with when the issue came to fruition. With the expansion of industrialization, the chains of explanation, or in other words, commodity chains grew to form worldwide connections. The growing commodity chain between other countries and for the United States’ own population drove for the need of increased agricultural means. This in turn is what created the major issue of expansion of industrialized agriculture, leading to the high emission standards that ultimately are putting our world in danger.

How did agriculture change the world?

Throughout the last century, agriculture has evolved and expanded into a thriving, global trade spanning the world that has been dominated by the rise of technology. This new wave of agriculture, called industrial agriculture, became the dominant form of farming in many developed countries due to the increasing crop yields and stockpile of food for the world. The largest innovation that paved the way for industrial farming was synthetic fertilizers that allowed for short term increased growth of crops. This was then followed up by new innovations such as hybrid and GMO seeds, inorganic fertilizers, fossil fuel machines and pesticides (Moseley, 2014, p. 264). Crops were not the only food production that was impacted from industrial agriculture. Livestock ranching was innovated and adapted to meet the demands of millions through the new was an industrialization. Old methods of free-range animal farming became a thing of the past and new methods of animal production came to fruition, the largest being concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). These massive productions raise, breed, and slaughter livestock in producing an abundance of food that can be shipped out worldwide. The equipment and machines of farming and ranching were not the only things that changed in industrial farming. Farming took on a whole new structure with the switch to corporately owned farms, run in the same way a business would be run in any other sector of the market. This trend toward corporate farms saw the massive decline in family farms. With the breakthroughs of industrial agriculture, also came along with many problems, some of which that had long lasting environmental issues on the ecosystem. In the next few slides, these issues will be explored in further detail.


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