Agricultural pollution refers to biotic and abiotic by-products of farming practices that result in contamination or degradation of the environment and surrounding ecosystems, and/or cause injury to humans and their economic interests. Agriculture is the backbone of our economy but the pollution generated from agriculture is a serious hazard for society.
Causes of Agriculture pollution
There are many causes of agricultural pollution. The most common ones include:
1. Pesticides and Fertilisers
The use of pesticides and fertilisers has become a common practice among farmers. Pesticides help combat local pests, while fertilisers seek to improve soil fertility for a better yield.
The proportion of the chemicals winds up absorbed by the plant itself and eventually transferred to animals once they eat the affected plants.
2. Contaminated Water
Contaminated water used for irrigation is another cause of agricultural pollution. Much of the water we use for growing crops comes from groundwater reservoirs, canals, and the rains.
Some of the 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.
As a result, the crops are exposed to water, which has small amounts of mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium dissolved in it. The process of agricultural pollution becomes harder to fight when such water poisons livestock and causes crop failure.
3. Soil Erosion and Sedimentation
Soil erosion and sedimentation are other factors to blame for agricultural pollution.
The soil comprises many layers, and it’s only the topmost layer that can support farming or grazing. But due to inefficient farming practices, this soil is often left open for erosion, leading to declining fertility each year.
The resulting sedimentation causes the soil to build up in areas such as rivers, streams, ditches, and surrounding fields. And so, the process of agricultural pollution prevents the natural movement of water, aquatic animals, and nutrients to other fertile areas.
Effects of Agricultural Pollution
1. Health-Related Issues
Agricultural pollution is the main source of pollution in water and lakes. Chemicals from fertilisers 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.
2. Effect on Aquatic Animals
Fertilisers, manure, waste, and ammonia undergo a transformation into nitrate and phosphates. When these substances are washed into nearby water bodies, they stimulate the growth of algae. As a consequence, oxygen levels in the water decrease, leading to the demise of numerous aquatic animals.
Thus, the oxygen levels are likely to decline, which can cause the death of fish and other water animals.
Eutrophication is the dense growth of plant life and algae on the water surface, causing high incidences of algal blooms. Eutrophication extensively depletes the oxygen dissolved in water, which can adversely affect the aquatic system by killing fish and other aquatic biotas. It is also linked to an increased incidence of paralytic shellfish poisoning in humans, leading to death.
4. Air Pollution
Agricultural pollution also leads to air pollution. Many machines such as tractors or harvesters used for tilling, harvesting, and other farm activities emit harmful greenhouse gases like CO2 by combusting fossil fuel, which, in turn, can lead to global warming.
Solutions to Agricultural Pollution
Government should take various initiatives regarding the use of various pesticides and fertilisers during agriculture. It should promote organic farming that is suitable for both the soil and for human beings.
Subsidy should be provided on Organic Farming.
2.Awareness of farmers
Farmers inadvertently cause harm to the environmental system. As such, they should be taught that the excessive use of fertiliser and pesticides has a huge adverse impact on the whole ecosystem.
Creating awareness may not eliminate the problem completely. However, it can help mitigate it to a certain degree.
3.Change in Agricultural practices
Many farms are returning to traditional manure, direct irrigation from local water bodies, and organic means of keeping pest populations in check. But for the process of agricultural pollution to be fully reigned in, there must be a complete shift in how agriculture is practised.
Keeping in mind the damages already done to the environment are irreversible, there is a need for a drastic and immediate cut in carbon emissions. India being an agriculture-dependent economy, can neither abandon the practice nor undermine the damages that are being caused by it. Therefore it is necessary to adopt carbon efficient initiative to fulfil the Nationally Determined Contributions.
– Aadarsh Kumar