Agriculture refers to the practice of rearing domestic animals and crops with the goal of food production. Although agriculture is essential in sustaining human life, the practices associated with it have been known to have certain impacts on the environment. The most notable of these effects includes climate change, deforestation, pollution, and general environmental degradation.
Environmental Impacts Of Agriculture
Agriculture and climate change have a reciprocal relationship. Climate change affects agricultural production through precipitation levels and temperature variations. In return, poor agricultural practices increase climate change. The most significant climate change associated with agriculture is brought about by methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide, all of which are greenhouse gases released into the Earth’s atmosphere from farming. Pesticides and fertilizers application affect the quality of air through production of compounds like phosphorus, nitrate and ammonia.
In order to enhance agricultural production quantity and quality, several additives to the soil are used in farming. The widely used are pesticides and fertilizers, which end up as pollutants in water run-off from the soil. This run-off can adversely affect more people and animal wildlife.
In all ecosystems, the biodiversity held in soil is massive. Healthy soils are vital to creating ample food production. Although agriculture is not the sole cause of soil degradation, poor farming practices are known to cause a considerable decline in in the quality of soil. This mainly results from pesticide contamination, waterlogging and salting. Soil erosion leads to loss of soil fertility and structure.
Across the globe, cases of forests being cleared for agricultural reasons is on the rise with people seeking to increase their scales of agricultural production. Deforestation provides more land for crops and pasture. Deforestation enhances the effects of climate change. Destruction of habitat amongst species also leads to fragmentation and depletion. Extensive deforestation affects the water cycle, which results in interferences with precipitation.
How Can the Environmental Impacts Of Agriculture Be Mimimized?
The key to protecting the environment against the harmful effects of extensive and unsafe agricultural practices is through sustainable practices. Sustainable farming incorporates both the conservation of available resources as well as employing farming practices aimed at environmental protection.