Now the main sources of water pollution in many countries are not cities or industry, but agriculture, since the most common chemical pollutants found in underground aquifers around the world are agricultural nitrates. This is reported by the press service of FAO, according to kurkul.com.
The report says that modern agriculture is responsible for discharging large volumes of agrochemicals, organic substances, suspensions and salt solutions into reservoirs.
Since 1960 the use of mineral fertilizers has increased ten-fold, and since 1970 the world trade of pesticides has grown from $ 1 billion to $ 35 billion/year. Meanwhile, the intensification of livestock production - while the world's livestock has tripled since 1970 - has led to the emergence of a new class of contaminants: antibiotics, vaccines and growth hormones that enter the ecosystems and water, which we drink.
And another fast-growing sector is aquaculture (which has increased twentyfold since 1980) is now discharging into the surface waters ever larger volumes of fish excrement, fodder residues, antibiotics, fungicides and antifouling agents.
FAO considers limiting the discharge of pollutants from sources, or intercepting them before they enter vulnerable ecosystems as the most effective way of reducing pressure on aquatic ecosystems and rural ecology. Outside of farms, the costs of cleaning up are greatly increasing.
According to FAO, there are many good practices that can reduce emissions of pollutants from farms to surrounding ecosystems, including: minimizing the use of fertilizers and pesticides, creating buffer zones along watercourses and farm boundaries, or improving drainage control schemes.
"Comprehensive blast protection, combining the use of pest-resistant varieties of crops with crop rotation practices and the use of natural predators for known pests, is another useful tool," the report said.
Animal husbandry requires the use of traditional techniques, such as the restoration of degraded pastures and improved management of animal rations, feed additives and medicines. At the same time, new approaches and technologies for the utilization of nutrients, such as biowaste plants operating on agricultural waste, can be used.
FAO thinks that facts that have negative impact of agriculture on the environment are:
- irrigation - the world's largest wastewater producer;
- 20% of the applied mineral nitrogen fertilizers accumulate in soils and biomass, and 35% fall into the oceans;
- 4.6 million tons of chemical pesticides are sprayed into the environment around the world every year;
- developing countries account for 25% of pesticides used in world agriculture;
- the economic damage caused by pesticides to non-target species in developing countries is almost $ 8 billion / year;
- almost 24% of the irrigated areas in the world are susceptible to salinization;
- while in the list of substances found in the European aquatic environment - more than 700 new pollutants, their metabolites and products of transformation.