The Sustainability of Farming

How does farming affect the environment?

The effects of farming vary from the release of greenhouse gases to polluted runoff and they can severely affect ecosystems.

One of the main problems is the release greenhouse gases. The greenhouse gases released are mainly methane from cows and CO2 from the vehicles used. These gases then rise up in the atmosphere and trap light that would have just left the atmosphere. This means that more energy is discharged and more heat is given off. Another large problem is that livestock farms generally don’t fence off rivers and waterways. This is a large problem as the livestock can defecate in the water which affects the ecosystem in the area. Some effects are: Algae growth which blocks of water intakes and drains, fish dying because of ammonia and the water can become unsafe for drinking or even swimming in. The last major problem is how farmland is made. One of the main ways farmland is made is by chopping or burning down forests. These are bad for the environment because it destroys habitats, it reduces the amount of CO2 recycled and it reduced biodiversity because it can kill of entire species. Deforestation can even cause things like desertification and it also accounts for 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

How sustainable is farming

Farming is not very sustainable. At the moment we are cutting down forests to make room for farming, which means we are contributing to global warming. As well as that, we have used most of the available land, so we cannot expand to feed the growing population. Also, some wealthier countries have bought large amounts of farmable land from struggling countries, meaning that these countries cannot sustain themselves. Some countries are near, or have reached their renewable water limits, meaning any expanding will cause water to be used faster that is is renewed (By rain, clean water sources like rivers, or filtration). Land is also degrading. As an example, Brazil loses over 50 million tons of topsoil every year. As well as that, constantly planting and moving crops leads to to soil losing fertility. Another problem in sustainability is genetic erosion, meaning that the world uses 30 crops for 90% of food. These crops have no genetic diversity, as their genes are all similar, in each crop, meaning that plant cannot adapt to changes, which threatens long term food security.

How can we improve farming

For farming to be sustainable it needs to have immediate benefits for the farmers to give them an incentive. They also need the sustainable farming techniques to be efficient enough to keep their farm sustained. Farmers need to be taught about these new techniques because they don't know if it’s a good economic idea. Farmers will eventually have to switch crops because some crops can create more food and some crops won't be able to be grown by 2050. We will also have to switch to farming more crops and less meat eventually. Farmers can switch between different crops to give the soil time to replenish some of the nutrients used by one crop while they other one grows using more nutrients. Farmers can create shelter for natural pest predators to prevent the need for pesticides.