Modern Agriculture and its impact on the environment

Agriculture is an important source of livelihood. However, modern irrigation techniques are largely impacting the environment. In this article, we shed some light on modern agriculture and its impact on the environment. The topic is very useful in the preparation of competitive examinations like UPSC, SSC, and State Services.
Created On: Sep 21, 2020 13:30 IST
Modified On: Sep 21, 2020 13:32 IST
Modern Agriculture and its impact on the environment
Modern Agriculture and its impact on the environment

Agriculture is an important source of livelihood because it is the process of producing food, feed, fiber, and many other desired products by the cultivation of plants and the raising of domesticated animals (livestock). It is an art of managing the growth of plants and animals for human use. Let's study how the development in the agriculture techniques have impacted the environment and ecosystem.

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What is Modern agriculture?

Modern agriculture is an evolving approach to agricultural innovations and farming practices that help farmers increase efficiency and reduce the number of natural resources like water, land, and energy necessary to meet the world’s food, fuel, and fiber needs. The agribusiness, intensive farming, organic farming, and sustainable agriculture are other names of modern agriculture.

Impact of Modern Agriculture on the Environment

As we know that modern agriculture improved our affordability of food, increases the food supply, ensured the food safety, increases sustainability, and also produces more biofuels. But at the same time, it also leads to environmental problems because it is based on high input–high output technique using hybrid seeds of high-yielding variety and abundant irrigation water, fertilizers, and pesticides. The impacts of modern agriculture on the Environment are discussed below:

Soil Erosion

The top fertile soil of the farmland is removed due to the excessive water supply. This leads to the loss of nutrient-rich soil that hampered productivity. It also causes global warming because the silt of water bodies induces the release of soil carbon from the particulate organic material.

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Contamination of groundwater

The groundwater is one of the important sources of water for irrigation. From agricultural fields, nitrogenous fertilizers leach into the soil and finally contaminate groundwater. When the nitrate level of groundwater exceeds 25 mg/l, they can cause a serious health hazard known as “Blue Baby Syndrome”, which affects mostly infants even leading to their death.

Water-logging and salinity

The salinity of the soil is one of the reasons of low productivity just because of the improper management of farm drainage. In this situation, the roots of plants do not get enough air to respiration then it leads to low crop yield as well as low mechanical strength.

Eutrophication

It refers to the addition of artificial or non-artificial substances such as nitrates and phosphate, through fertilizers or sewage, to a freshwater system. It leads to an increase in the primary productivity of the water body or the 'bloom' of phytoplankton.

Excessive use of fertilizers that consists of nitrogen and phosphorus leads to over nourishment of the lakes/water bodies and gives rise to the phenomenon of eutrophication (EU = more, trophication= nutrition).

Excessive use of Pesticide

There are many pesticides that are used for destroying pests and boosting crop production. Earlier arsenic, sulfur, lead, and mercury was used to kill pests. For Example- Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane (DDT) content pesticides were used, but unfortunately, it also targeted the beneficial pests. Most importantly, many pesticides are non-biodegradable, which also linked to the food chains which are harmful to the human being.

The relative significance of farming has dropped steadily since the beginning of industrialization, and in 2006 – for the first time in history – the services sector overtook agriculture as the economic sector employing the most people worldwide. But we forget that if we need food to survive then we need agriculture.

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