35 Agricultural Pollution Facts And Its Effect On Global Warming | Kidadl


35 Agricultural Pollution Facts And Its Effect On Global Warming

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With today's advanced world, everything around us is changing, and we can find advanced equipment and methods in every single sector you can think of.

Every coin has two sides, and no matter what we are talking about, there will always remain pros and cons to it. But before anything, you must be wondering what agricultural pollution is?

First of all, we all know what pollution is. The contamination of the natural environment with harmful materials is pollution. Now, agricultural pollution is the byproducts of farming, biotic or abiotic, that contaminate the natural environment. The world around us is adapting to rapid change, and so is our agriculture sector. With the growing human population and increasing demand, the use of modern techniques and tools are making lives easier and has suddenly become an important part of our lives. However, these modern techniques have also adversely affected our environment and the ecosystem. With that, let's jump into details to gain a better understanding of what agricultural pollution means and how it is harmful to us and nature.

If you love learning about agriculture and its different practices, further readings like agricultural revolution facts and agriculture in China facts will surely interest you as well.

Agricultural Pollution Meaning With Example

The contaminants that are released from any farming activity are known as agricultural pollution.

When talking of agricultural pollution, almost everything that goes into agriculture can have a huge toll on our environment. With the increasing use of modern technologies, agriculture has also modernized, which is again unpreventable due to the growing demand for agricultural needs. The fertilizers and pesticides that go into the production of a single crop and the byproducts of the same are just an example of agricultural pollution. The term is much more deep rooted than just this.

The byproducts can include both biotic and abiotic matters, which result in the contamination of our surroundings. Agricultural pollution ranges from single identifiable source pollution, also point source water pollution, to non point source pollution or air pollution. These pollutants then mix with the natural resources in the environment affecting the ecosystem and disturbing the environmental system. 

Sources Of Agricultural Pollution

There are three major sources of agricultural pollution, namely agricultural wastes, fertilizers, and pesticides, along with animal manure and unwanted salts from the irrigation water.

Agricultural wastes that are the remains of unwanted things from farming, in most developing countries, are burnt or dumped and thereby promoting the creation of air pollution and soil pollution. The residues of the burnt agricultural wastes could also be responsible for their contribution to water pollution. About 18 percent of global emissions are contributed by the burning of agricultural wastes.

Fertilizers and pesticides are also one of the main culprits for agricultural pollution. In fact, the earliest forms of pollution in terms of agriculture have been through the use of fertilizers and pesticides. These pesticides and synthetic fertilizers include the involvement of local pests along with new ones that are invasive in nature, making them overloaded with chemicals that then flow into water producing excess nutrients. These excess nutrients, in turn, cause algae to bloom that can create clogged waterways. Once dead, these algae blooms sink at the bottom of the water, removing oxygen from the water affecting aquatic life. 

The water used for irrigation often comes from groundwater reservoirs, canals, and rains. However, the water quality is degraded through pollution from soil organic matter, and heavy metals, which is caused due to disposal of industrial, agricultural pollutants, and animal waste. Crops are then exposed to such contaminated water with small residues of mercury, lead, arsenic, and cadmium dissolved in it. The exposure to such water creates contaminated crops which are used as animal feed crops and thereby results in the poisoning of livestock.

Agricultural pollution is also caused by soil erosion and sedimentation. We all know the soil is made up of multiple layers. Only the top-most layer includes fertilized soils that can be used for farming. When there is a lack of farming practices, the soil is left open, which further leads to erosion, in turn deteriorating soil fertility each year. The erosion occurs due to wind or water, which then causes sedimentation through soil disposition in areas like rivers, streams, and surrounding fields. This disrupts the natural processes of the aquatic system.

Last but not the least, livestock farming also contributes to agricultural farming. Livestock farming, in the olden days, was based on natural and healthy diets with more plant based foods and in limited space, making these farm animals play a huge role in the contribution to a healthy farm. However, talking of livestock production in today's world, farm animals are fed with foods that are not derived from natural resources and thus making animal manure emissions harmful for the environment. Livestock emissions include 64 percent of total ammonia emissions that contribute hugely towards acid rain, as well as 35 - 40 percent of methane emissions throughout the world.

The high demand for consumption crops has also led to humans looking out for exotic crops that are not native to the area. Growing exotic crops and lowering natural species has been a thing in the agricultural world for quite some time now. Although time has called for such measures, it also has adverse effects on our ecosystem. When these natural species are introduced to the exotic crops, they are brought in contact with new kinds of weeds and diseases which they were not built to fight with and, as a result, destroy local plants and wildlife at the same time.

Types Of Agricultural Pollution

With the introduction of new and modern techniques, such as the use of advanced farm equipment, agriculture has been a huge contributor to global warming and climate change. While talking of types of agricultural pollution, the most common types include agricultural water, soil, and air pollution.

Pollutants from agriculture consist mostly of sediments, nutrients, pathogens, pesticides, metals, and salts, which, when exposed to the environment, can end up altering the ecosystem. Pollution of water from agriculture is caused majorly by the use of fertilizers, manure, and pesticides. Fertilizers are a great friend of a farmer, and they contain all the necessary nutrients that plants need. However, when fertilizers are used more than the plants can absorb, they might get blown off or wash away before they can settle in and thus draining away excess nitrogen and phosphates into water bodies. These excess nutrients can cause eutrophication in the water bodies, which then leads to an explosion of algae, leading to degraded water quality for aquatic life. 

Residues of insecticides and herbicides have also been contributing to polluted water bodies with carcinogens and other poisons that adversely affect wildlife and human health. Pesticides can also disturb biodiversity by destroying native plants and insects and thereby killing the food sources for both animals and birds. Nitrogen oxides and phosphorus can also contribute to nutrient pollution. Nutrient pollution is generally defined as a form of water pollution where excess nutrients contaminate water quality and harm aquatic life.     

Agriculture is also a major sector that contributes to air pollution. Ammonia is used to create nitric acid, which in turn is required to make ammonium nitrate and other such nitrate fertilizers. However, ammonia can be very acidic, generally much more than other toxic molecules like nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides which are one of the major reasons for acid rain as well that damage natural biodiversity. 

Another major way that agriculture plays a huge role in increasing air pollution is through air pollutants like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and tiny smoke particles that are released from biomass burning. The deliberate burning of vegetation is in association with deforestation of crop residues that promotes regrowth and destroy pests. However, it can also pollute the air by the production of smoke and haze.

Agriculture and livestock also have a starring role in soil pollution through pesticides, fertilizers, use of manure, and contaminated water for irrigation. The quality of fertilized soil can also be degraded through excessive cultivation by damaging the structure of the soil, making them unable to hold the required moisture. 

Another disruption that agricultural pollution is known to be responsible for is soil erosion. Unsustainable farming practices have increased the rate of soil erosion by one to two orders of magnitude over natural rate and by exceeding the natural replacement rate of soil through soil production.

How can we control Agricultural Pollution?

Effect Of Agricultural Pollution On Environment

Agricultural pollution also has a huge adverse impact on both animal and human health, as well as our environmental system.

We bet you never imagined that something as natural and basic as farming could have such a negative impact on our lives. Did you know that 40 percent of global emission is contributed by livestock farming and that mineral fertilizers account for 16 percent and biomass burning account for 18% of global emissions?

Agricultural pollution, firstly, of course, has hugely impacted human health through various ways, including contaminated water that ends up in our drinking water. Now you can only imagine the harm it might be doing to our body given how toxic these waters could be. 

Biomass burning notably increasing the pollution in the air has also evidently caused respiratory ailments in both humans and animals.

Manure, fertilizers, ammonia, and other farming residues turn into nitrates and phosphates, which washes away into the water bodies. Nitrates and phosphorus are known to promote algae production, which again reduces the amount of oxygen in the water and thereby kills aquatic animals.

The use of pesticides and fertilizers, when combined with other agrochemicals, can help reduce pests, weeds and also promote large crop yields. However, long term fertilizer overuse can instead affect fertilized soils that reduce soil productivity and negatively impact future crop yields.

The use of fertilizers, animal manure, and the breakdown of agricultural wastes can also promote the production of nitrous oxide, which, like other greenhouse gases, absorbs radiation and traps heat resulting in global warming.

As previously discussed, agricultural pollution has a huge role to play in polluted air. Modern equipment, such as tractors, can produce harmful greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, making farming a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Agricultural pollution also has adverse impacts on animal health as well. Since animal feed crops mostly include the residual crop yields that were previously drowned with fertilizers, animals can die from ingesting such feed.

Although agricultural pollution is not completely avoidable in this advanced age of growing demand, which comes hand in hand with the growing population, a few steps towards mindful farming can help reduce it up to a certain amount:

The first solution is farmer awareness. Farmers being aware of how their actions by knowing that they have a give and take relationship with our environment are very important. Proper farming practices such as land and nutrient management are important practices to be followed for a healthy farming lifestyle that does not affect our mother nature.

Government regulations could play a very important role in the management of agricultural pollution. Ever since the observations of deteriorating farm life came into view, governments have been enforcing strict rules to ensure agriculture, the very basic need of human life, does not disturb the ecosystem.

Switching back to traditional farming practices has also been noticed in recent agricultural practices. Farmers are being made aware of sustainable agriculture, which means the use of environment-friendly farming techniques that allows adequate production of crop or livestock, such as with increased use of traditional manure, irrigation from local water bodies, as well as the use of natural resources for pest control, while at the same time making sure no damage is inflicted upon our environment.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 35 Agricultural pollution facts and its effect on global warming then why not take a look at 19 interesting 1960s cars facts for kids: all about classic muscle cars, or 27 fun things to do in Arizona with toddlers, we have the list?

Written By
Moumita Dutta

<p>A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.</p>

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