Water is a fundamental unit of nature. Large-scale industrialisation and urbanisation, the increasing population in the cities and subsequent waste products produced are polluting the environment. Due to the proliferation of wastes, pollution is spreading further. Solid and liquid waste comes from anthropogenic sources and if not disposed of correctly, pollutes the terrestrial and aquatic environments. Solid waste gets collected in the form of dunes, that contain items such as plastics, glass, metals and clothes. However these items, along with runoff from farming, can also end up in the waterways. Water Quality Assessments are used to monitor the health of the aquatic environment. Terrestrial pollution and inefficient farming methods can result in the loss of soil fertility hence the result is a loss of topsoil and nutrients. We will look at anthropogenic litter in another post but there are methods that agriculture can use to keep the soil on the site and reduce site runoff:
• Biological Method
o Crop Related:
- Crop Rotation
- Planting along the contours
- Reduction in use of chemicals
o Land Rehabilitation
- Replant bare areas with native vegetation
- Retain native vegetation buffers between development and waterways
• Mechanical Method
Mechanical methods may be required in conjunction with biological
1. Making bunds – Creating Bunds across the slope slows the water flow and reduces soil erosion.
2. Diversion drains– Can be used to prevent offsite runoff from entering an area of disturbed ground and assists in reducing site runoff and erosion.
Keeping the soil (and irrigated water) on the site not only retains the important topsoil but also saves money (and the environment) as fertilizers are not being removed from site into our waterways.
Organic Farming is a great alternative way of decreasing soil and water pollution. Chemical fertilizers contain phosphate, nitrogen and other chemicals that are contaminating the environment and water resources.
In case of organic farming instead of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides, bacterial fertilizer nutrients such as compost, green manure, bacterial culture, organic manure, bio-pesticides, and bio-agents are used. This reduces the degradation of the soil. As the soil is not polluted the farmers get better quality crops. In multiple areas of the country, farmers have adopted organic farming and doubled their earnings.
It will take many years of changed farming practices to eradicate soil and chemical pollution reaching our waterways. Programs such as the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan provide guidance on how we can protect our precious waterways. whilst recognising the importance of agricultural activities.