According to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are more than 700 types of pesticides, insecticides and chemicals such as Ammonium Nitrate, Ammonium Sulfate, zoalene, Boscalid, Deltamethrin, etc. are being used in conventional farming practices. Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides for better yield and rapid growth of the crop is detrimental to the environment. These fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, and several other types of synthetic products used during any agricultural process have a long-lasting effect on water, air, and soil. Sometimes, the damage to the environment especially the soil is so pervasive that the field becomes unsuitable for any kind of agricultural activity. This is high time that we realize the environmental impacts due to non-organic foods. It’s good news that scientists have found that organic fertilizers and the organic processes of farming are much better ways to save our environment. Through organic processes soil, air, and water don’t contaminate.
Environmental implications of fertilizers and pesticides on water and soil quality
Fertilizers are actually nutrients of plants whereas pesticides are used to save the plants from any kinds of microbial attacks. According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Agricultural pollutants accounts for 70% of water pollution in the world. If commercial fertilizers and pesticides used in farming are not managed properly, they can affect animals, humans, and above all the environment. Synthetic fertilisers contains excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus. Soil bacteria forms nitrates with fertiliser nitrogen will not only contaminates the surface soil, lakes and rivers but also the ground water. The nitrate formation of algae causing depletion of oxygen in water called Eutrophication. Some of other effects include presence of harmful compounds of nitrogen in drinking water, harmful pathogens in air, water, and soil, and emission of poisonous gases in the air.
Here are some mention-worthy environmental impacts due to non-organic foods:
- Manure and commercial fertilizers release nutrients that stimulate the growth of microorganisms. As microorganisms grow, the oxygen level in both water and soil are reduced to a great extent. In absence of sufficient oxygen in water, aquatic plants and animals suffocate. A similar problem occurs in the soil.
- Excess use of nitrates and phosphates in the water and soil deteriorates the quality of water and soil. Some compounds of nitrogen and phosphorus can form after the fertilizers and pesticides are used in farmland. These products don’t break or dissolve for a pretty long time. In many instances, it hinders the free growth of the next crops.
- The use of ammonia as fertilizer has long-lasting implications for the environment. Water contaminated with ammonia can kill hundreds and thousands of fishes within a few days. The quality of soil also deteriorates in presence of ammonia in the deeper levels of the soil.
- Pesticides benefit the crops to some extent by protecting them from microorganisms but biodiversity is severely affected by pesticides. Birds and aquatic animals are killed due to excessive use of pesticides on the farmlands.
If managed systematically, fertilizers and pesticides help in crop production. But commercial use of these chemicals has reached an alarming level today. Instead of doing anything good, they are destroying the environment.