Agriculture has a positive impact on the environment if it is done by natural methods.
But, when done by, the use of artificial methods can lead to adverse effects on the environment.
Besides, it also affects the health of humans and other animals as they are directly dependent on it for food.
So, sustainable agriculture would be beneficial, while conventional chemical-based would affect nature.
Impact of Agriculture on the Environment
The countries with desert and drought climates that have started agriculture by use of technology started to turn green and even have enhanced the rainfall in the recent years.
These countries use Sea water after desalination to use for agriculture. In doing so, they could convert desert land into green land.
Positive impact of agriculture on the environment
When agriculture is done through natural means, it is highly beneficial like it.
- Provides food security
- Enhances rainfall and greenery
- Employment opportunities
- Supports ecology
Agriculture is the major source of food for humans and animals.
Though some of the food is procured from sea fishing, still mostly plant diet, dairy and meat are obtained by farming.
This provides a sense of security and stability in life all over the world.
Without agriculture-based foods, man cannot indulge in any other sort of jobs or businesses.
Enhances rainfall and greenery
As part of agriculture, people tend to build water recharge points and grow excess plants. This leads to improvement in rainfall and greenery.
Farming provides many means of employment like wage work, farming, machine technology, stockist, scientist and business options.
Right farming enhances the population of insects and larva. This sets the stage for the birds to breed as they rely on insects to feed their progeny.
Farming enables both wild and domestic animals to get sufficient feed opportunities.
Hence, agriculture supports the ecology.
Negative impact of agriculture on the environment
- Contamination of food
- Destruction of natural flora and fauna.
- Decrease in groundwater
- Destruction of natural species
Pollution: Agriculture leads to three types of pollution like
- Air pollution
- Soil pollution
- Water pollution
- Chemical pollution
- All these three forms of pollution are again due to the heavy use of chemical manures and pesticides.
- Manures enhance the yield and support the growth, health and vitality of the plant. These manures can be natural, organic, or even chemical.
- Natural manures include household kitchen waste, poultry waste, farm animal excreta, crop waste, growing nitrogen-fixing algae, bacteria, etc.
All the methods give nutrition to the plant to the fullest.
- But in some countries, there is the use of human waste and chemical fertilizer use either due to poverty or misinformation.
- In the United States, Europe, and other countries, the use of these artificial chemical fertilizers was in full swing in the past.
- But, due to the recognition of its effects on the soil and environment, this has been discontinued. However, this is still prevalent in some countries.
- This use of chemical fertilizers may give instant results to the farmers regarding yield. But, in the long run, it destroys the soil’s natural texture and chemistry.
- If the soil’s pH is changed, its ability to retain water and support plant-friendly microbes is lost.
- This leads to unhealthy plant crops leading to serious diseases and infections.
- Farmers again use harmful chemical pesticides, mostly organophosphorus compounds or cyanide-containing ones to control this.
Hence, it is important to use natural pest control methods.
- So, now the crop material is contaminated with pesticides too. During this use of pesticides, there is air pollution.
- Hence, farmers wear face masks to avoid the chemical effects on them. But, this leads to air pollution and soil pollution.
- Further, if there are rivers beside, it can also lead to water pollution.
- Another interesting fact is that these pesticides do not get degraded faster.
- They tend to stay in the soil for a long time. Due to this, they could reach groundwater and contaminate it.
- The soil and crop are also contaminated with this chemical and can reach even humans through food.
- Though pesticides are intended to destroy plant pathogens, they also affect birds and other animals like rodents and reptiles living on the farm.
- Since birds eat the larva of insects, the pesticide poison even reaches their body and kills them.
Sometimes this is heavy during their breeding and prevents the growth of their offspring. This leads to a decrease in birds and other animal populations in the surroundings.
- Large swaths of land give more crop yield. This is a tactic used to enhance agricultural revenue.
- So, farmers encroach on nearby forests, if any and cut down the trees. This is done to enhance the land size for cultivation.
- In doing so, in some countries, the forest area is drastically reduced from the minimum recommended 30% of the entire landmass for forests.
Contamination of food
- This is a huge problem, and its control is almost impossible. Farm products starting from milk, meat, vegetables, grain, etc., are contaminated.
- In spite of FDI and other regulatory bodies’ efforts to control the limits, still, they find their way into the human body.
- This food contamination can be in the form of hormones in milk and pesticides in food.
- Once they get into the body, they alter the hormonal secretions and nervous system.
- Since these are vital body systems, the individual’s health is affected over time.
- However, this is not so problematic when fiber crops like cotton are grown.
Destruction of natural flora and fauna
- The presence of flora and fauna is a part of nature.
- The soil has many microorganisms and other animals like earthworms living in it.
- 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.
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. Hence, as per WHO, there is a decrease in groundwater all over the world.
Destruction of natural species of the crop
- Every region has its own set of plants like wheat and grain. Though they are the same species, they vary from one area to another.
- With the entry of seed companies into the field, natural species are becoming 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 a high crop yield.
- However, the seeds from these crops are not strong enough to germinate if sown back into the soil for the next crop. So, there is a loss of natural species and also natural means of cultivation.