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The Hidden Crisis of Modern Farming: You Won't Believe What's Happening!

Modern agriculture, while enhancing food production, has engendered environmental repercussions, necessitating a shift towards sustainable farming methods for long-term ecological health.

Pragya Nigam
The Hidden Crisis of Modern Farming; Know the Truth (Pic Credit: Pexels)
The Hidden Crisis of Modern Farming; Know the Truth (Pic Credit: Pexels)

Agricultural practices have gradually intensified since the Industrial Revolution, especially with the advent of the "green revolution" in the mid-20th century. These advancements in farming techniques have led to substantial increases in crop yields per unit of arable land, enabling the support of a global population that has quadrupled in size over a century.

As the human population continues to grow, so does the amount of land dedicated to cultivating essential crops. In 2016, more than 700 million hectares (1.7 billion acres) were utilized for growing staple cereal grains like corn, wheat, and rice, accounting for nearly half of all cultivated land worldwide, as reported by the World Bank.

Notably, modern agriculture employs advanced tools and techniques derived from scientific research for efficient plant cultivation and animal husbandry. It encompasses large-scale farming, mechanization, and genetic modification, focusing on six key steps:

  • Crop Production: Utilizing modern methods like fertilizers and pesticides to grow crops.

  • Feed Production: Cultivating crops like corn and soybeans to feed livestock.

  • Meat Production: Rearing animals like cattle and pigs for human consumption.

  • Poultry Production: Raising chickens and turkeys for meat.

  • Dairy Production: Keeping cows for milk production.

  • Processing: Transforming harvested food into products like bread.

Impact of Modern Agriculture on the Environment

  1. Soil Pollution: Fertilizers used in modern agriculture can contain harmful chemicals that contaminate water sources if not managed properly, leading to soil degradation and reduced crop yields. Slash-and-burn practices exacerbate topsoil loss and contribute to climate change.

  2. Water Pollution: Modern agriculture's heavy reliance on irrigation systems can deplete rivers and groundwater sources, leading to shortages and floods. Moreover, excessive fertilizer use exacerbates erosion, contaminating water bodies.

  3. Water-logging and salinity: Poor farm drainage management contributes to soil salinity, hampering plant root respiration and resulting in reduced crop yields and mechanical strength.

  4. Eutrophication: Eutrophication occurs when freshwater systems receive excessive nitrogen and phosphorus from sources like fertilizers or sewage, leading to increased growth of phytoplankton, known as a "bloom," and heightened primary productivity in the water body.

  5. Greenhouse Effect: Modern agriculture's heavy energy usage contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, with up to 25% attributed to farming activities. Methane release from livestock digestion, nitrous oxide from fertilizers, and carbon dioxide from soil respiration and deforestation all play significant roles in climate change.

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