Modern agriculture has vastly increased the amount of food that farms are capable of producing with great gains in efficiency, but it can also have a major negative impact on the environment. Large-scale farms are vital for keeping the world fed, but they can devastate local ecosystems through clearcutting and runoff, which often releases methane, ammonia and other toxic chemicals into the environment.
In order to grow crops, the natural flora of an area must first be removed. This can lead to habitat destruction and a major change in the ecological balance. Much of the destruction of the rain forests is due to the expansion of agricultural operations. Removing old-growth plants and trees can also increase erosion, remove nutrients from the soil and spur flooding. The dust storms that plagued the Midwest in the 1930s were, in part, due to over-farming of the land and clearing of natural plant cover.
Runoff from farming operations can often include toxic substances. Pesticides and ammonia are common pollutants leftover from industrial farming operations, and they may find their way into the water table through the natural water cycle. In addition, livestock farms can be a massive source of methane and other pollutants from animal waste, and if this runoff enters lakes and streams, it can trigger dangerous algae blooms and kill fish and other wildlife.Learn More
Modern agriculture may create substantial environmental effects, such as adding toxins and pesticides to water that leaches into rivers, lakes and the atmosphere. Although such modern products are used to benefit crop production, they come at the cost of negative impact on the environment.Full Answer >
The primary disadvantage of shifting cultivation, also called slash and burn or swidden agriculture, is the destruction of large areas of land, primarily crop fields and tracts of forest. When performed improperly, slash and burn can make once-fertile lands unable to support the new growth of crops and plants. Slash and burn may cause environmental and economic consequences by reducing the growth potential for crops in certain areas, which limits the variety and quantity of agricultural goods farmers can produce.Full Answer >
The primary advantages of crop rotation include preserving fertile soil, enhancing the health of crops and minimizing the amount of pests, while the primary drawbacks and challenges include lingering fungi and pests. Another major drawback is the time involved in preparing the soil for new crops.Full Answer >
One of the advantages of commercial farming is that it significantly increases food production, allowing local consumers to buy the same quantity of food for a lower price. Intensive commercial farming, however, uses various kinds of fertilizers and pesticides, posing a threat to ecosystems.Full Answer >