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Agriculture Impacts

Agriculture Impacts

Author: Jensen Morgan

Compare characteristics of agroecosystems to natural ecosystems.

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Source: Image of Earth PD Image of Earth Clipart PD Image of GMO Corn CC Image of Cattle CC Image of Sustainable Farming CC Image of Compost PD

Video Transcription

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Hi, I'm Jensen Morgan. We're going to talk about some great concepts in environmental science. Today's topic is agricultural impacts. So let's get started.

Today, we're talking about what the environmental impacts of agriculture are and practices employed to mitigate those problems. At the making of this video, nearly half of our planet is used for agriculture. There are many negative environmental impacts that result from agricultural practices, such as water pollution. Mainstream agriculture employs the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. These chemicals are not inert and can easily run off of fields and into water systems causing water pollution problems.

Most agricultural land was once a natural ecosystem. The changing of previously undeveloped land destroys habitat and threatens wildlife. As a result, there is a loss of biodiversity as there is an increase in agricultural land. Mainstream agricultural practices commonly cause soil erosion, which over time, reduces nutrients and topsoil available for growing crops. It is common for forest land to be raised for agricultural use, which is reducing wildlife habitat and total forest area globally.

As more land gets transformed for agricultural use, we are changing natural ecosystems into agroecosystems. Agroecosystems tend to have a low genetic diversity, low species diversity, and low habitat diversity. All three are problematic for a stable, healthy ecosystem. Agroecosystems tend to have these causes because they are designed to control a small number of species in a given area for human use, whereas natural ecosystems allow a larger diversity of species to have progression and succession over time.

In order to have the highest amount of efficiency and control, most agriculture tends to practice monoculture, which is the cultivation of a single crop. Monoculture tends to cause a number of issues, such as an increased need for fertilizer because only one type of crop is being grown in a single plot of land, which leads to depletion of the same type of nutrients that the crop needs to grow. Because there is no crop diversity, local pests can adapt to decimate whole fields, which then increases the need for pesticides. Because there is then an increased need for both fertilizer and pesticides, chemical runoff increases, polluting water systems and damaging aquatic ecosystems, all of which eventually leads to harming human health.

Luckily, there are ways to mitigate and transform these negative environmental impacts. Organizations and government institutions can provide information on methods and subsidized technologies to mitigate impacts. Three primary methods of transforming negative impacts are organic, sustainable, and regenerative agriculture.

Organic agriculture seeks to avoid synthetic compounds, instead using more natural sources and methodologies. In this photo, an organic cattle farm in Ohio is pasture raising their cows instead of giving them processed feed. Sustainable agriculture's methods seek to prevent negative impacts through practices that take part in the natural cycles around them instead of degrading resources. For example, this farm below composts their waste and reuses it to grow food instead of using chemical fertilizers.

Regenerative agriculture's main goal is to improve surrounding ecosystems resources. This is primarily done by creating and replenishing soils and their nutrients. In the photo here, you can see topsoil being slowly created with leaves and other organic materials.

Now, let's have a recap. We talked about the various impacts of agriculture, such as the runoff of chemical fertilizers into waterways polluting our drinking water. We talked about agroecosystems and the negative impacts of practices, like monoculture. And finally, we talked about ways to mitigate or transform these negative impacts through practices like organic, sustainable, and regenerative agriculture. Well, that's all for today. I hope these concepts have been helpful. I look forward to next time. Bye.