If the fresh water supply is going to last for generations, we must develop ways to sustain and improve water quality worldwide.
As the world population continues to grow, so does our need for food. Crops and livestock provide us with the energy we need to get through our days. For centuries, humans have relied on agriculture to grow the crops and raise the animals that provide us with food. However, as we become more environmentally aware, we need to find new ways to produce food and take care of the planet.
We only have one world, and we must take care of it if we are going to survive now and in the future. One of the biggest threats to our survival is water contamination from agricultural practices. Since water is the most important necessity for our survival, we need to ensure that we have fresh sources to drink and to raise crops and livestock. To ensure we have clean, fresh water, there are some sustainable farming practices that can be implemented to improve water quality worldwide.
1. Develop a Water Filtration System
Agricultural runoff has increased contamination in surface water and increased the need for water filtration systems. Water filtration systems have the ability to remove impurities and pollutants from water sources, making the water healthier for human and animal consumption. Water filtration can also be beneficial to crops because contaminated water could potentially impact the food we ingest, which means it will still get into our system.
Removing contaminants from water sources helps improve human health and the health of our crops. Water filtration systems are a sustainable and eco-friendly way to improve water quality around the world.
2. Improve Nutrient Pollution from Crops
Agriculture is one of the largest contributors to nutrient pollution in water. The amount of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides that are used on crops can far exceed the amount that is needed, so the excess finds its way into our water sources.
Sustainable agricultural practices that may help combat nutrient pollution include planting cover crops in the off season to keep the soil from eroding, adding nutrients to the soil and reducing weed growth, which then reduces the amount of herbicides that are needed to kill the weeds.
To reduce the amount of pests in crops, farmers can apply integrated pest management (IPM). The IPM process uses pesticides only when necessary and in limited amounts. The goal is to achieve pest management through sustainable means while protecting the environment and human health.
3. Improve Nutrient Pollution from Animals
When it comes to raising animals, it’s inevitable that there will be waste. Animal waste releases harmful gases into the environment, including carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and methane. Pathogens from manure can get into the water system and infect humans and other animals. Other harmful pollutants from animal waste that can get into the water system and impact humans include hormones, nitrogen, phosphorus and heavy metals, among others.
To reduce the impact that animal waste has on humans and other animals, it’s important to develop sustainable practices to improve water quality. These include using the waste as a fertilizer, which would reduce the amount of chemical fertilizers needed on crops, and allowing livestock to graze in pastures instead of small pens. This reduces the amount of waste that is confined to one area.
4. Use Water More Efficiently
There are a variety of ways that farmers can use water more efficiently on their farms, including scheduling when they irrigate and using renewable power sources to run their irrigators, using “waste” products such as manure to retain soil moisture and restoring habitat to natural wetland and riparian states. These practices are sustainable and environmentally friendly and will improve water quality around the world and for generations to come.
Humans are amazingly innovative when it comes to finding ways to survive and thrive. We’ve come a long way in developing sustainable and environmentally friendly practices to save and protect the environment, so it’s possible to develop new and innovative ways to improve the quality of water around the world.
Emily Folk is a freelance writer and blogger from Lancaster, PA. She covers topics in conservation, sustainability and renewable energy. To see her latest posts, check out her blog Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter.