As the world is heading towards global warming, we can see countries and their leaders waking up to its dangers. All over the world, people have started to make minor changes to their practices in every field. One such field is farming. It is one of the most common and old practices known to man. It is also one of the most essential ones. Such a widespread practice has a lot of effect on our environment, be it positive or negative. Research has shown that farming practices actually contribute a lot to the detrimental cause of global warming. Until now proper research had not been carried out to pinpoint the most common practices that can be changed to make agriculture more eco friendly. Though now we do have some tips for farmers or people related to agriculture in any way. Some very easy and practical changes to farming practices can actually contribute a lot to saving the environment. Let’s have a look at some of the best suggestions.
Decrease the use of fertilizers and pesticides
Fertilizers are a haven to farmers. They boost their crop growth and make them healthier. Although these fertilizers surprisingly have a very negative effect on the environment. A recent study has shown that excessive use of fertilizers decreases the quality of the soil, making it more acidic. This now starts a chain reaction with some branches. The ammonia and other chemicals present in the fertilizers get washed out by rain to lakes and seas. This results in eutrophication. Eutrophication is when fertilizers wash into a water body boosting the growth of algae in it which greatly reduces the amount of oxygen present in the water endangering the marine life in it.
Changing irrigation methods
Changing irrigation methods can contribute to saving a lot of water and being eco friendly. Agriculture practices use the most amount of water compared to all other human practices. Making small changes and adopting new techniques can make a huge difference to the cause of saving water and the environment. Irrigation methods like drip irrigation, pressure control, and others help us to save water by avoiding wastage.
A lot of forest-land is cleared for agricultural practices all over the world. As population increases, more forest area is being cleared to produce more food. So much deforestation has a direct impact on the environment. As we know trees provide oxygen to the air, so cutting them down reduces oxygen which ultimately results in global warming. Deforestation needs to be stopped as soon as possible. Solutions like rooftop farming, multi-layer farming and vertical farming can help us in our cause.
Another very successful practice is to start using aquaponics. Aquaponics is a system that combines aquaculture and agriculture. Different Aquaponics ideas combine different types of aquatic life and plants. Basically, how the system works is that the water from the fish tanks which contains fish excretions is sent to plants that use up the nutrients from the excretion. That water is thus cleaned for fish and is sent back to the pond or tanks. This circulation of water almost halves the use of water. Since this also creates a regular supply of nutrients to the plants, there would not be any requirement of fertilizers and non-eco-friendly chemicals.
Minimize the use of fuels for machinery
There are various types of machines that are used on the farms to speed up various processes of farming. Tractors, harvesters, pumps, sprayers, and many more are used for specific activities. Almost all these machines run on diesel or petrol. Burning of these fossil fuels releases a lot of carbon dioxide into the air which is the leading cause of global warming. There are several ways to minimize the use of these machines and we should start adopting them as soon as we can. Minor changes to the farm like growing the crops in proper rows, avoiding using the machines wherever possible, and using human pickers will make farming more eco friendly.
Using renewable energy sources
Renewable energy sources are the answer to a lot of questions that involve saving the environment and preserving nature. The advancements in science and technology are paving a way for a much cleaner and greener future. Solar energy, hydroelectricity, wind energy, and biomass are some of the most favorable renewable energy sources for farming activities. Solar energy can help power a lot of the heavy machinery that is being used on the farms for harvesting, irrigation, etc. The farm can start getting energy from hydropower instead of burning coal or other fuels. Setting up windmills can also help big farms that are not close to any source of hydropower and need electricity on their farm.
Avoid stubble burning
Farmers need to burn the waste crop after harvesting. The straw stubble of crops like wheat and maize needs to be cleared before the soil is made ready for new seeds to be sowed. In the past farmers had to remove the stubble, collect it and dispose of it by hand. Hence they had started setting fire to the stubble to avoid going through all the trouble. This practice just stayed with them even though farmers can now use machines to help out clear the waste crop. Burning of these crops started being seen as the leading cause of air pollution which made the governments all around the world shut down these practices and started imposing heavy fines. The waste crop, instead of burning, can also be used as an organic fertilizer to provide nutrients to the plants.
Crop rotation and selection
Crop rotation and selection is a very ingenious way to conserve the quality of the soil and drastically decrease its degradation. Every plant drains the soil they grow in off of some nutrients during its growth. Intensive farming causes the soil to lose those nutrients completely over time. To avoid this we can plant a different type of crop, in rotation, which uses a different set of nutrients from the soil. This way we avoid discharging the soil completely off certain nutrients.
Human activity as widely practiced as farming can make a huge difference to the future of our environment. Small changes in the right direction can save nature and the environment from further destruction. We should all work towards a greener and an eco-friendly future