Even when talking about various types of pollution, we were unaware of such pollution such as plastic pollution, soil pollution, agricultural pollution, smog, etc. But when we study a particular subject, it is very familiar to us. Thus, let us understand what are the agricultural pollution, their causes, types, methods of prevention, and effects.
Pollution by agricultural methods has increased ever since the demand for food has increased, in proportion to the increase in population. Farmers have had to resort to additional chemical fertilizers, pesticides, weed pesticides, hormonal treatments for livestock, nutrient-rich fodder, and many practices that have changed the way farming has been done to increase farm and farm yields.
What is agricultural pollution?
Agricultural pollution is the pollution of the ecosystem and the related environment as a result of the utilization of natural and chemical products for farming. This contamination is actually harmful to all living organisms that depend on food for farming.
Causes of agricultural pollution
Chemical fertilizers: These are mostly nitrogen and phosphorus-based chemicals such as ammonia and nitrates that promote soil fertility in the right amounts. But in most cases, they are used in excess of the requirement and are therefore retained in the soil without increasing its goodness.
Chemical Pesticides: When pests and pests cause large scale losses, it causes economic degradation for the farmers. Pesticides and insecticides such as organochlorine, organophosphates, and carbonates are toxic to pests. They also accumulate bioavailability i.e. they accumulate in the body of the organism and lead to chronic poisoning. It can be carried down the food chain. Some pesticides are also naturally absorbed by plants and their various parts are stored. Insecticides are not discriminatory in nature because they also harm beneficial pests such as bees and pollinators,
Heavy metals: Radioactive elements such as cadmium, fluoride, uranium are regularly found in the basic minerals from which fertilizers are obtained. Zinc waste from the steel industries uses hazardous metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic, chromium, and nickel as fertilizers. These are often not removed due to the high cost involved.
Excessive tillage: Leaving, digging, or moving greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide into the ground
Soil erosion: Soil becomes infertile due to loss of soil material due to poor management
Soil sedimentation: Soils or sediments carried in water bodies cause great damage. Sedimentation reduces the transport capacity of navigation channels. This reduces the amount of sunlight reaching the water beds affecting plants and animals living in it. This causes disturbance which interferes with the feeding pattern of the fishes and affects their populations. Sedimentation also affects the carrier and accumulation of water pollutants.
Introduction of exotic species: Numerous examples of exotic species of plants, animals, and insects were introduced to control pests and weeds. But after a while, they are gone and they themselves become a nuisance. They harm the competition of indigenous flora and fauna for natural resources and also cause changes in biodiversity. Such indigenous pest control has resulted in the loss of many indigenous beneficial creatures.
Genetic modification to increase resistance to pests and diseases: A hot topic of debate today, it is a cause of concern for many people that these crops will cause the loss of many native species and may become weeds themselves. If these insects would be toxic for humans to consumers, then in-depth studies have to be done.
Animal Management: There should be strict rules regarding the disposal of manure and other allied wastes in farms specializing in cattle, sheep, goat, pig, and poultry farming. They should not be disposed of indiscriminately in the surrounding areas. They cause pollution of water as well as air. It is said that 18 percent of greenhouse gases are produced by agricultural animals. Manufactured manure in large quantities carries pathogens which are also harmful to humans. Proper animal waste management can reduce its huge bulk, making it easy to use.
Types of Agricultural Pollution
Leaching and groundwater poisoning
When the chemical accumulates in the soil, depending on the solubility of the water and the composition of the soil, it spreads through the groundwater, causing its pollution. It also depends on rainfall. For example, after applying pesticides to crops in sandy areas, if highly irrigated, pesticide chemicals move into the ground. Leaching occurs not only in farms but also at manufacturing, mixing, and disposal sites.
Only a fraction of fertilizers and other chemical additives uses on farms. The major bulk runoff is mix with water and flows into nearby cisterns. It is mainly in the form of nitrate and phosphate.
Eutrophication also called water nutrient enrichment. When nitrogen and phosphorus-rich chemicals released from the fields into the water, it increases the level of nutrients in the water. It encourages plant growth.
This greatly benefits the algae. When they flower and bloom, they use most of the oxygen levels in the body of water, much less for other life forms. This kills fish and other animals in the water that cannot swim for safety.
Algae blooms prohibit the entry of sunlight into the water. It affects photosynthesis in plants and does not allow the restoration of oxygen levels by this process. Water eventually becomes unfit to support any form of life.
Algae themselves also release some toxins that travel up the food chain and adversely affect higher life forms.
Agricultural pollution prevention
- The priority is to keep nitrogen and phosphorus-rich nutrients locked in water sources near farms and animal farms.
- Prevention can never be a single effort. State governments, farmer organizations, collectives and cooperatives, educational institutions, and conservation groups need to work together to regulate and reduce water pollution related to farming.
- Planning the application of the right amount of fertilizer at the right time can reduce run-off in the right ways
- Planting some grasses and clover that can absorb and recycle excess nutrients and prevent soil erosion. Planting rows of trees and shrubs around the fields and along the boundaries of the stream or lake also help.
- To prevent soil erosion and soil compaction, an excessive amount of soil should be avoided.
- Proper disposal of animal waste and keeping farm animals away from water will reduce nitrogen pollution in water.
- There are various methods of composting, solid-liquid separation, anaerobic digestion, and management of lagoon animal manure. Of this, anaerobic digestion is the most effective. This includes the use of anaerobic bacteria and heat. The products of this process are nutrient-rich liquids use as fertilizer and methane gas that can burn to produce electricity and heat. Anaerobic digestion is the best method for controlling odors associated with manure management.
Effects of agricultural pollution
Since agricultural pollution is not a single permanent entity, its effect is in the form of water pollution and air pollution. It affects every aspect of the environment and every organism from earthworms to humans. Some adverse effects are as follows:
Drinking or swimming in water with dangerous levels of algal blooms leads to rashes, stomach and liver problems, respiratory diseases, and neurological effects.
Infants drinking water with high levels of nitrate are affected by Blue Baby Syndrome which is often fatal. Symptoms are shortness of breath and blue skin.
Formation of dead zones or hypoxic areas where no aquatic life exists; Examples are the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico
The ingestion of toxins from algal blooms in the food chain damages large animals such as dolphin seals and turtles.
Smog events occur due to the formation of ozone from air pollution with nitrogen oxide. Ozone pollution damages trees and forests.
Agricultural pollution also causes heavy economic losses. Cleaning contaminated water is expensive. Tourism affected by the decrease in fishing and boating activities. Air pollution reduces visibility at tourist and sightseeing spots. Marble and limestone buildings damaged by ozone pollution. The fishing and shellfish industries are also losing money for contamination. The real estate value that always rises when the groundwater and surrounding water sources are in good condition is the opposite.
Safe drinking water and clean water habitat are the rights of every living being. Be more responsible in our farming practices to conserve it and make it available to all.