Why conventional agriculture is destroying biodiversity


Habitat loss is not the only contributor to the decline in biodiversity, however. Conventional farming revolves around the use of supplementary chemicals to enhance yields. Since crops are grown in soil and not in a contained area, all the poisonous pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are carried away by irrigation or rain.

Agriculture destroys biodiversity by converting natural habitats to intensely managed systems and by releasing pollutants, including greenhouses gases. Food value chains further amplify impacts including through energy use, transport and waste. Reducing the food system’s toll on biodiversity is a critical challenge.Jul 4, 2017


How does biodiversity affect agriculture?

Sustainable agriculture embraces biodiversity by minimizing its impact on wild ecosystems and incorporating numerous plant and animal varieties into complex, on-farm ecosystems. Biodiversity is what makes every environment on earth unique. While we see biodiversity in the breathtaking shapes and colors of the natural world, it starts with genetics.

Why is conventional agriculture bad for the environment?

A significant amount of chemical and energy input is required in conventional agriculture to produce the highest possible yield of crops. “This method usually alters the natural environment, deteriorates soil quality, and eliminates biodiversity.” (USDA.gov).

Are farmers good or bad for Biodiversity?

The way that farmers grow crops and raise animals can be either good or bad for biodiversity. On one hand, farmers can support biodiversity through careful farming methods. On the other hand, if farmers are not careful, the environment and organisms on and near the farm can be harmed. Trees can act as natural water filters.

Is conventional farming killing us?

The truth is, conventional farming is killing us. Let me detail a few of the very major ways that conventional farming affects our environment – and our health. What Is Conventional Farming? What Is Conventional Farming?


How does conventional agriculture affect biodiversity?

Biodiversity—the variation of life on Earth—is essential to healthy ecosystems and serves as nature’s own system of checks and balances. Through the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides and reliance on monocultures, conventional farming eliminates biodiversity.

Why is agriculture bad for biodiversity?

AGRICULTURE AND BIODIVERSITY. In addition to its effects on climate, the expansion of agriculture has caused massive losses in biodiversity around the world: natural habitats have been converted to farms and pastures, pesticides and fertilizers have polluted the environment, and soils have been degraded.

How does agriculture destroy the environment?

Shifting land use to raise more livestock delivers a one-two punch to the environment. Not only is animal agriculture resource intensive and polluting, but clearing land that previously held forest and other vegetation means releasing stored carbon into the environment and destroying diverse ecosystems.

How does conventional and sustainable agriculture impact the environment?

Sustainable agriculture consumes less water and energy, enhances soil composition, and forgoes synthetic chemical input. Conventional agriculture cannot meet the needs of the current population without compromising the integrity of the environment.

How does farming cause biodiversity loss?

Farmed animals now account for over 90% of all large land animals. Producing protein via farmed animals is a very wasteful use of resources. It can take from 10kg to 100kg of plant foods to produce just 1kg of animal product. The demand for grain-fed meat is one of the main drivers of global biodiversity loss.

What effect does conventional agriculture have on biodiversity quizlet?

What effect does conventional agriculture have on biodiversity? Biodiversity is decreased in cultivated fields.

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 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.

How do modern agriculture methods affect the environment?

The top fertile soil of the farmland is removed due to the excessive water supply. This leads to the loss of nutrient-rich soil that hampered productivity. It also causes global warming because the silt of water bodies induces the release of soil carbon from the particulate organic material.

What are the disadvantages of conventional farming?

Disadvantages of Conventional FarmingConventional farming may ruin the soil in the long run.Pests may become resistant.Plant diseases may spread.Organic farmers may have a hard time competing.Many small farmers may go out of business.Food may not be as healthy as with organic farming.More items…

What is conventional agriculture?

Conventional farming manages resource inputs (i.e., fertilizer, irrigation water, amendments, pesticides) uniformly, ignoring the naturally inherent spatial heterogeneity of soil and crop conditions between and within fields. The uniform application of inputs results in over and under applications of resources.

What are the different concerns of conventional agriculture in the Philippines?

The major concerns of the Philippine agricultural sector revolve around the urgency for: (a) increased production to sustain the food needs of the growing population (or food security), (b) employment generation to meet the 10-point agenda of the government, and (c) greater global competitiveness.

How does sustainable agriculture help biodiversity?

Sustainable agriculture embraces biodiversity by minimizing its impact on wild ecosystems and incorporating numerous plant and animal varieties into complex, on-farm ecosystems.

What is biodiversity and agriculture?

Biodiversity and Agriculture. Biodiversity is the immense variety we see in all life on earth. As living things adapt to their environment and evolve over time, more and more variation emerges. Scientists estimate that at least 8.7 million unique species of animals, plants, fungi, and other organisms exist on Earth, …

What are the innovations that helped farmers produce more food per acre?

Widespread adoption of steel plows, hybrid seeds, GMOs, chemical fertilizers and pesticides helped farmers produce more food per acre than ever before. More recently, the adoption of genetically modified seeds helped to increase yields even further. This productivity comes at a great cost, however. Wide fields of a single crop (called monocultures) provide simplicity for farmers and a steady supply of feed to factory farms, but they are biodiversity deserts. Maintaining monocultures requires intense chemical inputs that reduce the abundance of wild species both on and off the farm.

How does monocropping destroy biodiversity?

Industrial agriculture’s impacts are not limited to habitat destruction through its expanding footprint: its reliance on heavy chemicals to create giant stands of single crops has serious consequences for plant, animal and microorganism biodiversity.

What is the most serious threat to biodiversity?

22 Climate change is one of the most serious threats to biodiversity, and affects even remote areas scarcely touched by humans.

How did humans harness genetic diversity?

Long ago, humans harnessed and steered genetic diversity by domesticating edible plants and animals. Even without understanding genetics, the earliest farmers did this simply by choosing to raise plants that produced large, edible seeds.

What are the three things that plants, animals, and soil depend on?

The plants, soil, and animals all depend on one another for nutrients and habitat . In a functional agro-ecosystem, healthy soil microbes provide nutrients to plants, the root systems of which hold the soil in place. Plants provide food and habitat to beneficial insects and birds that pollinate them and manage pests.

Why is biodiversity decreasing?

However, more and more, the world’s biodiversity is being decreased because of human actions. Scientists have confirmed that human activities have brought about the sixth mass extinctionof species on the planet – it is estimated that species are going extinct at a rate about 1,000 timesfaster than normal.

How many acres of corn are there in the US?

Corn covers around70 million acres, and soy reached 80 million acresof farmland in the U.S.  Since corn and soy are the main crops produced for livestock feed, these forests have been converted into acres and acres of monocultures, replacing the vast forest ecosystem with a veritable diversity dead zone.

How does farming affect biodiversity?

Can farming affect biodiversity? The way that farmers grow crops and raise animals can be either good or bad for biodiversity. On one hand, farmers can support biodiversity through careful farming methods. On the other hand, if farmers are not careful, the environment and organisms on and near the farm can be harmed.

What happens if farmers don’t take care of their trees?

On the other hand, if farmers are not careful, the environment and organisms on and near the farm can be harmed. Trees can act as natural water filters. Their roots absorb rainwater, and minimize the amount of runoff entering rivers and lakes.

What are the organisms that live in soil?

There are millions of organisms that live in soil — microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, and macroorganisms, such as worms, mites, ants and spiders. These organisms can help farmers to reduce the negative effects of farming.

Is farm dirt rich in biodiversity?

A handful of farm dirt is rich in biodiversity. Soil biodiversity includes animals, bacteria, fungi and even the roots of plants growing above. Soils form complex ecosystems that make farming possible.

How does industrial agriculture affect animals?

Animals are being affected off-farm by chemical drift, runoff, and habitat fragmentation, not to mention the impacts of human-driven and agricultural-driven climate change, which impacts species from the depths of the ocean to the poles.

What is regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture presents a very real alternative to industrial agriculture. It employs methods specifically intended to increase soil biodiversity, which ripples out to ultimately benefit the many animals otherwise facing displacement and extinction from industrial agriculture.

Why are bats losing their way?

Not only are birds suffering from a loss of habitat and food sources, they’re also being affected by harmful pesticides like neonicotinoids that create confusion and cause migrating birds to lose their way. Bats face similar challenges from pesticide exposure and habitat loss.

Why are bird populations decreasing?

Woodland bird populations are decreasing all around the world due to habitat loss but species that rely on diverse farmlands, like the gray partridge, are hit the hardest. Farmland bird populations have decreased by over half since 1970. Not only are birds suffering from a loss of habitat and food sources, they’re also being affected by harmful pesticides like neonicotinoids that create confusion and cause migrating birds to lose their way. Bats face similar challenges from pesticide exposure and habitat loss.

Why are insects declining?

Insects. Recent research shows that insect populations have shrunk by as much as three quarters in the past twenty-five years, largely due to pesticides and land use change. Many insects rely on a single type of plant, so loss of crops and native plants hits insects hard.

How many reptiles are at risk of extinction?

Similarly, around one in five reptiles are at risk of extinction. Numbers for freshwater fish are even more grim, with some scientists calling them the most endangered group of animals, with more than one third facing extinction due to human impacts including agricultural runoff.

What are some examples of freshwater species that have been affected by pollution?

These animals are sensitive to change and have narrow habitat requirements. Amphibians are especially susceptible to pollution because of their permeable skin. For example, frogs have been found to contain disruptive pesticides used …

Advantages of Conventional Farming

One advantage of conventional farming is that we can maximize our food production.

Disadvantages of Conventional Farming

While conventional farming can maximize crop yields in the short run, the use of fertilizers and pests in an excessive manner may ruin the soil in the long run and farmers may no longer be able to produce enough food in the future.

Should We Use Conventional Agriculture?

As you can see, there are many advantages and disadvantages related to conventional farming.

Why is agriculture important to sustainability?

In addition to local constraints, sustainable agriculture also requires much more labor to maintain crops. The science of agriculture has allowed human populations to grow exponentially and dominate the world’s landscapes.

Why is sustainable agriculture important?

Sustainable agriculture has the potential to sequester carbon, feed the world, and enrich the environment. The social, economic, and environmental benefits of this system are reasons why sustainable agriculture is the most viable way to accommodate growing trends. VII. References.

Why is intercropping important?

Intercropping is one of many early discoveries in agriculture still being implemented today that promotes biodiversity, maintains soil composition, and fortifies plant health.

What is sustainable agriculture?

Sustainable agriculture is a more holistic approach to farming than conventional in that it relies on ecosystem services and is typically much less detrimental to the surrounding landscape. Sustainable agriculture is a natural way to produce food and has a number of social, economic, and environmental benefits.

How has agriculture helped the world?

Farming has enabled human populations to dominate the world’s landscapes for many thousands of years. The science of agriculture has been refined and perfected over time to accommodate for the ever-increasing human population. Until recent centuries, productive crops were mostly organic and existed with some permanence as part of a landscape. As communities grow though, less and less land is available for food production and existing crops become easily exhausted. Food insecurity caused by rapid population growth has pressured science to step in and produce many synthetic chemicals and gene manipulation techniques to maximize the potential of plants. In addition, agricultural production has increased tremendously worldwide over the last century. Coupled with this growth however is the pollution and degradation of the natural environment. Many agricultural techniques exist today, but in an effort to adjust to the exponential trends of our population without compromising the integrity of the environment it is necessary to have a global transition towards sustainable farming. With the current population at seven billion and rising, an important question must be addressed: What is the most sustainable and cost effective way to feed the world’s population? Fortunately humans have been perfecting agricultural methods for thousands of years, which can help to answer this question.

How can we improve soil quality?

Conventional systems can improve soil quality by practicing sustainable methods like no-tillage farming, agroforestry, and integrated pest management, but sustainable agriculture is the most effective form of food production in terms of maintaining soil conditions .

What are the points of comparison in agriculture?

In a comparison of conventional and sustainable agriculture there should be several points of focus: production, biodiversity, soil composition / erosion, water use, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions. The environmental impact and production levels of each method will determine its overall viability as …

Why do farmers need more land?

Because organic and regenerative farms typically yield less food per hectare than industrial farms, sustainable farmers need to use more land if they are to grow the same amount of food.

Why is it important to eat more plants and less meat?

Eating more plants and less meat would take pressure off land needed to feed a growing world, according to a UN report. Experts say organic farming alone is not the answer.

How many species are at risk of extinction?

The way food is grown around the world threatens 24,000 of the 28,000 species that are at risk of extinction, according to a report published Wednesday that calls on world leaders to urgently reform the global food system.

What are the problems of the food system?

The food system sits at the heart of four worsening global crises: climate, extinction, hunger and obesity. With more than a third of the world’s land used for agriculture, experts are grappling with how to feed a growing population more food that is healthy — while at the same time killing less wildlife and emitting fewer greenhouse gases.

How many people die from air pollution in the world?

Outdoor air pollution causes around 4.2 million deaths a year, due to illness like heart disease and lung cancer, according to the World Health Organization. Burning fossil fuels to power vehicles, homes and industry as well as agriculture and waste incineration is behind much of that pollution. Switching away from climate-killing fuels to green energy would benefit human and planetary health.

What is the most urgent concern regarding conventional farming?

If increased disease, allergies and superbugs were not enough, the most urgent concern regarding conventional farming is actually contamination of our drinking water. Conventional farming uses about 70% of our fresh water supply. Yet the mixture of pesticides, nitrogen fertilizers and industrial chemicals is destroying our groundwater.

What is conventional farming?

Conventional farming can be contrasted with organic farming, which refers to farming practices that use natural fertilizers, mixed crops, free range animals, and other activities that have a much smaller footprint on the earth.

How to grow your own food?

If you can do it, grow your own food. Use organic, natural pesticides and other methods like companion planting. If you can’t, buy as much as you can from farmers that grow organically. They may not be certified organic, but make sure you know what they use on their fields and the methods they use.

How many pests are resistant to pesticides?

Over 400 insect and mite pests, and more than 70 fungal pathogens, have become resistant to at least one pesticide. This applies to unwanted plants as well.

What is the purpose of pesticides?

That is right there in the name “-cide” means it kills something. Pesticides are used to kill fungus, bacteria and insects that attack crops used in food production. Chemical pesticides, used in conventional, non-organic farming, have been linked to cancer, allergies, birth defects, Alzheimer’s and many disorders.

Why do farmers want genetic uniformity?

Conventional farmers want genetic uniformity in their crops and livestock so that they can consistently offer each consumer a predictable, standard product. Compare any conventional seed catalog (especially the big ones geared to large farmers) to a heritage seed catalog.

Does DDT decompose quickly?

The most famous of these is DDT. Like plastic, these toxins don’t occur naturally, they don’t decompose quickly and, essentially, they just don’t go away. Chlordane, one of those Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP), was banned by the USDA in 1983. However, it has polluted nearly the whole world.


Vanishing Species, Vanishing Biodiversity

Replacing Diversity with Monocultures

  • Another major player in the disappearance of the world’s biodiversity is the production of livestock feed. Yes, the crops that are grown to feed the animalsthat are pushing other species out of their native habitats are causing problems too. Around 99 percent of chickens, 99 percent of turkeys, 78 percent of cattle, and 98 percent of pigs in the Un…

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So, What Can You Do About this?

  • It can seem like all of the cards are stacked against you on this one, but this is hardly the case. Humans have shown we have the power to inflict damage on the world, but in turn, we also have the power to heal that damage. Now that you know how animal agricultureis causing the world to loss it’s precious biodiversity, you can help to repair the damage done by removing your persona…

See more on onegreenplanet.org

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