Modern agriculture plays an enormous role in improving the living standards and quality of life of human by increasing the availability of food all year round at affordable prices. However, intensification of agricultural practices has both pros and cons. This article expects to discuss in detail about modern agriculture and its impacts.
What is modern agriculture?
Maintaining a consistent food production for the growing populations using available limited natural resources (land, water) was an immense challenge encountered by agriculture sector. To resolve this issue, intensified agricultural practices were adopted. Simply ‘modern agriculture’ is an approach based on high input- high output procedures such as practicing intense tillage, use of abundant irrigation water, use of inorganic fertilizers, genetic manipulation of plants and chemical control of pest and diseases to combat the global demand of food and fuel. It is also termed as intensive farming, modern farming or intensive agriculture.
Importance of modern agriculture
Increases the food production
Use of more inputs give higher yields thus increasing the overall production. These higher yields will be adequate to meet the growing food and fuel demands of the increasing population. Hunger and malnourishment incidences may be alleviated.
Ensures food security
Increased food production helps to maintain a reliable steady access to nutritious food globally.
Improves the affordability
Availability of agricultural products reduce the amount of money that has to be spent on purchasing them. Quality of life and living standards are hence improved.
Ensures food safety
Use of advanced handling and processing methods safeguard food against many possible contaminations.
Alleviate the physical pressure on environment
Use of productive technologies such as biotechnology or genetic manipulation of plants to obtain higher yields reduces the use of inputs per unit of output. Therefore, the impact on environment is alleviated.
Impacts of modern agriculture on environment
Widespread use of sprinkler and drip irrigation systems and pumps, construction of dams and canals and adoption of river diversion strategies have resulted an increased water supply for farmlands. But in the long run excess water removes the surface soils from the land hence resulting soil erosion. The surface soil usually contains the highest amount of plant nutrients and organic matter as well as the finest soil particles which aids in moisture and nutrient retention. The removal of fertile top soils from farmland reduces the overall productivity.
Reducing the soil quality
In traditional methods, soil fertility and quality is maintained through recycling of nutrients by a variety of plant and animal species and several other natural contributors. But in intensive agriculture, fertility of the soil is maintained by incorporating fertilizers frequently. If the nutrients and other minerals which were lost due to continuous cultivation and excess runoff were not replaced properly by fertilization, poor soil quality is resulted.
Contamination of water sources
Surface runoff can carry fertilizer and pesticides into water resources such as lakes, wells and rivers. Water percolation through modern agricultural lands often increases the chemical concentrations of ground water hence making them unacceptable for drinking. Contamination of fertilizer fastens the algae growth in lakes and rivers leading to blockages or flood conditions around the reservoir.
Development of pest resistant species
In modern farming most of the farmers rely on use of chemicals for crop protection. The major drawback as associated with pesticide use is that it does not only kill the pest of concern but also a range of other organisms without any selection. It kills beneficial insects as well as pest predators. Another impact is that it develops resistance in the pest species which produce species with greater tolerance to the certain pesticide.
Modern Agriculture and its impacts- an overview
Learn what modern agriculture is and its importance for the world. As well its impacts on the environment.