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Agricultural Pollution

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What is Agricultural Pollution?

Developing means of farming and agriculture is the reason humans live in the world they do today. It is a necessary means of survival, without which there would be famines all over the world. For thousands of years, agricultural was a natural process that did not harm the land it was done on. In fact, farmers were able to pass down their land for many generations and it would still be fertile as ever. However, modern agricultural practices have started the process of agricultural pollution. This process causes the degradation of the eco-system, land and environment due to the modern day by-products of agriculture.

 

Causes of Agricultural Pollution:-

Pesticides and Fertilizers:- The earliest source of the pollution has been pesticides and fertilizers. Modern day pesticides & fertilizers have to deal with the local pests that have existed for hundreds of years along with the new invasive species.

Once they have been sprayed, it does not disappear completely. Some of it mixes with the water and seeps into the ground. The rest of is absorbed by the plant itself. As a result, the local streams that are supplied water from the ground become contaminated, as do the animals that eat these crops and plants.

Contaminated Water:- Contaminated water used for irrigation is one further source of pollution. Much of the water we use comes from ground water reservoirs, canals and through the rains. While plenty of it is clean and pure water, other sources are polluted with organic compounds and heavy metals. This happens due to the disposal of industrial and agricultural waste in local bodies of water.

Soil Erosion and Sedimentation:- Further problems are caused by soil erosion and sedimentation. Soil is comprised of many layers and it is only the topmost layer that can support farming or grazing. Due to inefficient farming practices, this soil is left open for erosion and leads to declining fertility each year. Whether eroded by water or wind, all this soil has to be deposited somewhere or the other.

Pests and Weeds:- Growing exotic crops and reducing the natural species in a certain area has become the norm for agriculture. However, it is simply adding to the process of agricultural pollution. With the arrival of new crops, the native population has to deal with new diseases, pests and weeds that it is not capable of fighting.

 

Effects of Agricultural Pollution:-

Health Related Issues:- Agricultural pollution is the main source of pollution in water and lakes. Chemicals from fertilizers and pesticides make their way into the groundwater that ends up in drinking water. Health related problems may occur as it contributes to blue baby syndrome which causes death in infants. Oil, degreasing agents, metals and toxins from farm equipment cause health problems when they get into drinking water.

Effect on Aquatic Animals:- Fertilizers, manure, waste and ammonia turns into nitrate that reduces the amount of oxygen present in water which results in the death of many aquatic animals. Again, bacteria and parasites from animal waste can get into drinking water which can pose serious health hazards for various aquatic life and animals.

Can Reduce Long-term Agricultural Yields:- Pesticides and herbicides combined with other agrochemicals are continually used to control invasive pests, weeds, and diseases or in other farm operations. However, many farmers don’t realize the long-term effects of consistently using these toxic chemicals. Since they remain in the soil for years, they have the potential of contaminating waters and plants and kills soil microorganisms as well as beneficial insects.

Eutrophication:- Increased levels of chemical nutrients in aquatic systems, nitrogen and phosphorus, from manure and fertilizers give rise to eutrophication when washed into nearby surface waters by rain or irrigation.  Eutrophication is the dense growth of plant life and algae on the water surface and mainly leads to high incidences of algal blooms.

 

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Solutions of Agricultural Pollution:-

Buffer strips help:- Leave a wide strip of deep-rooted plants along ditches, streams and lakes to absorb and filter runoff. Many programs, including ditch authorities, pay rent for these filter strips.

Change the plan on marginal land:- Plant marginal cropland to perennial crops or convert to water retention areas.

Use smarter drainage:- Install controlled drainage systems instead of traditional pattern tiling.

Manage the nutrients:- Follow nutrient management plans to ensure efficiency and protect water resources.

Manage the manure:- Follow manure management plans, including setbacks from water resources when applying manure to fields.

 

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