Human-made agricultural practices are affecting natural environmental balance. While human have been benefiting from nature. The relation between human and nature was not negative. But the natural environment is degrading due to access use of chemicals in agricultural practices. It is causing not only environmental degradation but also affecting human health. 

Environmental degradation and agricultural practices
Agricultural practices impact on environment

For a certain period human being had lived unaware about their damage on nature. Afterwards the detriment of human on environment unconsidered initially because of environment renew-ability feature, even it was thought that the environment would eradicate the impurity.

In time, increasing of harm on environment with every aspect was more and more than renew-ability capacity of environment therefore the environment started to deterioration rapidly. On the other side, pollution and contamination that occurs owing to common activities of anthropogenic both quantity and quality of agricultural production. And these interactions made an important discussion subject that called as agriculture-environment relationships.

Animals also benefit from nature and again they effect to human directly or indirectly. All the parameters used to assess the quality of hay, fungal diversity and the production of breathable dust were the most sensitive parameters to agricultural practices and climatic factors.

Deforestation is also playing a major role in impeding greenhouse gases. It is considered second after fossil fuel for increasing GHGs. Forests collect carbon 20 or 40 times more than agricultural lands and most of the carbon is released into atmosphere when forests has been destroyed to open agricultural land. Methane gas can also occur sometimes in agriculture.

Paddy cultivation worldwide is responsible for 40% of global methane emission. High microbial decay of organic materials emits methane into the atmosphere where rice grows in low-oxygen environment. Ruminant livestock bring 15% of global methane emission. These animals digest the cellulose and release methane gas into the air.

Nitrous oxide (N2O) which is another greenhouse gas is closely related to agriculture. A part of nitrogen released into the soil turn in N2O and released into the atmosphere as a result of nitrogen fertilizer application. Nitrogen fertilizers led to 0.1 – 1.5 per cent of the natural N2O oscillation.

Different application in agriculture is affecting the spread of greenhouse gases. Fossil fuels are used more in areas of intensive agriculture.

Role of agricultural practices on environment

Harmful effects of agricultural applications

  • Environmental described as external medium where human, animals and plants live together.
  • Environment consists from two pieces that human-made and natural environmental.
  • Environmental pollution occurred by irregular urbanization and unconscious industry and applications.

The main reasons of environment degradation are: irregular and rapid industry growth; urbanization; organic and inorganic wastes that left in environment; unintended usage of agricultural lands; and wrong agricultural applications.

Erroneous use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, irrigation, tillage, plant hormone applications are some of the bad practices. Also stubble burning, planting without rotation and inappropriate animal wastes are wrong practices of agriculture.

Evaluating the effects of best management practices in agricultural watersheds is often complicated by major temporal variability in weather and hydrologic conditions. Best management practices are being used by informed farmers to reduce agricultural pollution while improving productivity.

There is a need to consider local level policies and practice, informed by a combination of participatory approaches and sound scientific development at an appropriate scale.

Pesticide tradition

Pesticides are used to eliminate harmful insects, microorganisms and other pests. They are mixing with soil, water, air and food, and causing on crops and affecting both human health and natural balance. They are an environment problem, as well.

Pesticide runoff is a major contributor to surface-water contamination. Pesticide not only kill their only target pests but also finish many harmless rather useful organisms. Modeling stream water pollution by herbicides in agricultural areas is a critical issue since numerous and incompletely known processes are involved.

The  alternative implementation designs combining the use of herbaceous riparian buffers with other practices are capable of altering nutrient and pesticide loads, riparian hydrology, and in stream habitat are needed. Additionally, with the passage of time fields, streams, lakes, ground water and sea are being converting to a kind of poison storage.

There are hundreds of pesticides that are used in the world. According to WHO’s classification, 33 pesticides are very dangerous, 48 of them are quite dangerous, 118 of them are moderately dangerous and 239 of them are less dangerous of totally 700 mostly used pesticides. About 75 per cent rate of pesticide usage belongs to developed countries.

Inorganic fertilizer practice

Using high amounts of nitrogen fertilizer results to soil washing, contaminates to ground and drinking water, stream and sea by increasing nitrogen amount. This also affects the water organisms that when use, it breaks the natural balance of environment. The cotton and wheat that are grown in the high amount nitrogen applied soils accumulate NO2 and NO3 and some carcinogenic substances like nitrosamine.

Drinking waters shouldn’t contain more than 20 ppm nitrate. Unconscious using of phosphorus fertilizers also breaks natural balance with the increasing phosphate value in water.

Incorrect Irrigation practices

Irrigation has big importance to high agricultural yield and quality in arid and semi-arid regions. Wrong irrigation cause to environment problems. Rising of ground water, salinity, fertilizers and chemical additives residues go to deep with irrigation water, trace elements collect in water sources and cause to soil erosion and make disease and harmful on the whole living organisms .

Also excessive irrigation as a purpose of agricultural production leads to soil salinity and desertification. Agricultural practices also affect land use, they have effects on the amount of soil erosion in agricultural regions through changes of the economic conditions of agricultural production.

Inappropriate Soil tillage practices

Inappropriate soil tillage with regards to field location, soil structure and climate conditions cause to soil movement with rain. In other words it cause erosion and create serious environment problems. Cultivation of natural ecosystems has led to marked decline in soil carbon storage, such that conservation agricultural practices are widely recommended as options to increase soil carbon storage, that can mitigate climate change.

Crop Rotation practices

Bioenergy crops play an ecologically and economically fundamental role as an alternative to agri-food productions and as renewable energy sources. Little attention has been focused on soil quality following conversion of agricultural lands to biomass crops. Non-rotational agricultural practices decrease the soil fertility and nutrition. Rather it increase soil degradation, increase pests attacks, and cause soil erosion. 

Toxic effect of plant hormone treatment

Plant hormone treatment refers to organic substances that used for growth and development for yield increase. Using of plant hormone is harmless in case of appropriate dosage and time, but the same hormone could make toxic effect if it used carelessly. The most used hormone is 2.4-D. It is worth mentioning that Sweden doesn’t give permission any residue of 2.4-D.

Stubble burning Practices

For elimination of stem, hay and especially secondary product applied agricultural areas; stubble is burned to prepare seed sowing. But stubble burning cause to very environmental degradation. It cause to wind and water erosion, product loss when it made uncontrolled applications, breaks the natural vegetation and makes soil infertile. In many countries stubble burning is banned. 


Bad agricultural practices has negative effects on environment. Modern agricultural practices use many kinds of chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, cleaners, crop preservatives to produce and keeping large amount of high-quality food. But at the same time these chemicals has dangerous and unforeseen side-effects like toxicity to non target organisms which causes to ecological imbalance. 

This article is jointly written by Muhammad Nazim*1, Muqarrab Ali1 and Qurat-Ul-Ain Sadiq2. The authors are from 1 Department of Agronomy, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, University of Agriculture Multan, Pakistan. And 2 Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences, Muhammad Nawaz Shareef, University of Agriculture Multan, Pakistan

By Muhammad Nazim

M.Sc.(Hons.) Crop Physiology, Department of Agronomy, MNS-University of Agriculture, Multan, Pakistan.