Essay on Impacts of Agricutlure on the Environemnt

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Impacts of Agricutlure on the Environemnt

The negative environmental effects of agriculture – water and air pollution, loss of habitats and biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, and nutrient losses – have received major attention and continue to persist. Environmental concerns arise from many agricultural activities and sources including concentrated livestock production, pesticide and chemical use, deforestation, drainage of wetlands, soil erosion from cropland, and the use of fragile lands.

Damage to Soil
Soil erosion from farmland threatens the productivity of agricultural fields and causes a number of problems elsewhere in the environment. An average of 10 times as much soil erodes from American agricultural fields as is
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Up to a certain point, increased fertilization and irrigation will compensate for the lower soil fertility. Long-term loss of farmland productivity and damage to the environment from eroded sediments, therefore, often are overlooked in the need for short-term economic gains.

Over the past 50 years, the negative effects of soil erosion on farm productivity have been masked by improved technology and increasing use of fertilizers and pesticides. Ironically, many of these measures used to increase the short-term productivity of American farms are also causing excessive erosion, which threatens productivity over the long term. For example, diminished use of cover crops leaves soils unprotected from wind and rain during much of the year, and increased mechanization has led to use of larger fields without windbreaks or drainage contours.

The effects of erosion are also felt elsewhere in the environment. A recent study estimated the off-site cost of cropland erosion in the United States to be in the range of a billion dollars per year (Clark, Haverkamp, and Chapman 1985). Eroded soil clogs streams, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, resulting in increased flooding, decreased reservoir capacity, and destruction of habitats for many species of fish and other aquatic life. The

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