Agricultural Pollution In India|Causes and measures taken by Farmers
Agricultural pollution can be defined as the degradation or contamination of the environment through abiotic and biotic byproducts of farming.
Agricultural pollution may come from a variety of sources, ranging from point source water pollution (from a single discharge point) to more diffuse, landscape-level causes, also known as non-point source pollution. Management practices play a crucial role in the amount and impact of these pollutants. Management techniques range from animal management and housing to the spread of pesticides and fertilizers in global agricultural practices.
Causes of Agricultural Pollution
Abiotic byproduct of farming
- Pesticides- Pesticides and herbicides are applied to agricultural land to control pests that disrupt crop production. Soil contamination can occur when pesticides persist and accumulate in soils, which can alter microbial processes, increase plant uptake of the chemical, and are toxic to soil organisms.
- Fertilizers- They are used to provide crops with additional sources of nutrients, such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, that promote plant growth and increase crop yields. While they are beneficial for plant growth, they can also disrupt natural nutrient and mineral biogeochemical cycles and pose risks to human and ecological health.
- RadioActive Element-The radioactive content of the fertilizers varies considerably and depends both on their concentrations in the parent mineral and on the fertilizer production process.Where high annual rates of phosphorus fertilizer are used, this can result in uranium-238 concentrations in soils and drainage waters that are several times greater than are normally present. However, the impact of these increases on the risk to human health from radionuclide contamination of foods is very small.
- Organic contaminants -Manures and biosolids contain many nutrients consumed by animals and humans in the form of food. The practice of returning such waste products to agricultural land presents an opportunity to recycle soil nutrients. The challenge is that manures and biosolids contain not only nutrients such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus, but they may also contain contaminants, including pharmaceuticals and personal care products.
Biotic byproduct of farming
- Greenhouse gases from fecal waste-The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicted that 18% of anthropogenic greenhouse gases come directly or indirectly from the world’s livestock. This report also suggested that the emissions from livestock were greater than that of the transportation sector. While livestock do currently play a role in producing greenhouse gas emissions, the estimates have been argued to be a misrepresentation. While the FAO used a life cycle assessment of animal agriculture (i.e. all aspects including emissions from growing crops for feed, transportation to slaughter, etc.), they did not apply the same assessment for the transportation sector.
- Bio pesticides- Bio pesticides are pesticides derived from natural materials (animals, plants, microorganisms, certain minerals).As an alternative to traditional pesticides, biopesticides can reduce overall agricultural pollution because they are safe to handle, usually do not strongly affect beneficial invertebrates or vertebrates, and have a short residual time.
Effects of Agricultural Pollution
- Effects on human health
- Decrease in crop yields
- Soil pollution
- Air pollution
- Destruction of biodiversity
- Water pollution
- Effects on animals
- Effects on plants
- Effects on aquatic life
Solutions to the Agricultural Pollution Problem
- Reduce the use of fertilizer and pesticides
- Avoid soil erosion by planting all over the year
- Plant trees or grasses along the edges of fields
- Prevention can never be a solo effort. The state governments, farmers’ organisations, collectives and cooperatives, educational institutions and conservation groups need to work together for regulating and reducing farming related water pollution.
- Planning the application of fertilizer at the right time, in the right quantity with the correct methods can reduce the run off
- Planting certain grasses and clovers that can absorb and recycle the additional nutrients and prevent soil erosion. Planting rows of trees and shrubs around fields and along the borders of the stream or lake also help in the same way.
- Over tilling of the soil must be avoided to prevent soil erosion and soil compaction.
- Managing the correct disposal of animal wastes and keeping farm animals away from water will reduce the nitrogen pollution of the water.
- Composting, solid liquid separation, anaerobic digestion and lagoons are different ways of managing animal manure. Of these anaerobic digestion is the most effective. It involves the use of anaerobic bacteria and heat. The products of this process are nutrient rich liquid used as fertiliser and methane gas that can be burned to produce electricity and heat. Anaerobic digestion is a best method for controlling odour associated with manure management.
Agricultural pollution can be seen as a serious problem to the environmental system. It affects humans, animals, plants and also our water cycle in an adverse way. There are many factors that cause agricultural pollution. The main factor that contributes heavily to agricultural pollution is the excessive industrial use of fertilizer and pesticides.
But also, our consumption behaviour contributes to agricultural pollution. Thus, this pollution sources can be mitigated in an effective way if the awareness on this topic is increased in our society. If we all stick together, we can help to reduce agricultural pollution even through our consumption behavior in our daily life.