Agriculture Damaging Environment, German Study Says

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Conventional agriculture is causing enormous environmental damage in Germany, warns a study by the country’s Federal Environment Agency, saying a transition to organic farming and stricter regulation is needed.

Intensive farming still harms the environment to an alarming extent, according to a study conducted by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). The use of pesticides and fertilisers as well as intensive animal husbandry, have a negative impact on humans and nature, the 40-page document indicates.

“Over the last 30 years, innovation and technical progress in most sectors has led to great successes in reducing the amount of substance that reaches the environment. But agriculture emissions show only marginal improvements,” the study’s authors write.

Agriculture the second largest producer of greenhouse gases

One of the most controversial issues concerns greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the researchers, the use of moors and clear-cutting for agriculture, as well as fertilisers, soil cultivation and animal husbandry produce a high level of emissions that impact the climate. 

In 2012, agriculture-related emissions were around 70 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent – about 7.5% of the year’s total greenhouse gas emissions. This means that after industry, which made up 84%, agriculture was the second largest emitter in Germany.

Biodiversity is also threatened by intensive farming. Agriculture burdens the environment with nitrogen, phosphorus and heavy metals. Broad-spectrum pesticides not only wipe out parasites, but also kill other beneficial insects. 

As a result, this has adverse effects on birds and other mammals, who lose their food resources. The unfortunate result is that instead of realising initial plans to stop and reverse the trend of species loss by 2010, more and more species are disappearing from the agrarian landscape.

Nitrogen emissions exceed government’s target values

The authors write that excessive nitrogen emissions are still alarmingly high, with 60% of nitrogen emissions originating from agriculture. 

Still, the country’s nitrogen surplus has been stagnating at a high level for years. At an average of 97 kg per hectare, it exceeds the German government’s target value within the sustainability strategy by almost 20 kg per hectare. 

As a result, agriculture, with a share of 57%, is the nation’s largest source of nitrogen emissions into the environment.

While the European Commission is currently working on a directive to further reduce nitrogen emissions, Germany has not yet complied with the existing Nitrates Directive from 1991.

Recently, however, the German government announced that it intends to gradually cut the 97 kg per hectare nitrogen level to 50 kg per hectare, thanks, in part to pressure from the European Commission. This is also a target that UBA President Maria Krautzberger has pushed for on many occasions.

Organic farming contributing to environmental protection

Meanwhile, the UBA study’s recommendations to counteract all of these problems were formulated more broadly. 

On the one hand, conventional agriculture should be required to follow stricter rules, the authors argued. It must use nitrogen and phosphorus more efficiently, limit feed surpluses, restrict animal husbandry to specific surfaces, and more carefully distribute fertilisers, the council writes.

The study’s second recommendation is a transition to organic farming. This could provide “a considerable contribution to reducing emission of substances that pollute the environment”, it reads.

Source: Euractive.com

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Comments

lyseconcept jean Marius
Quand vous idtes pesticides et engrais , il faut dire engrais chimiques.
L'allemagne est le plus grand pollueur au monde avec les engrais chimiques qui finissent en grande partie dans les cours d'eau.
When you say pesticides and fertilizers, it must be said chemical fertilizers.
The Germany is the biggest polluter in the world with chemical fertilizers that end up largely in the river.

Lyseconcept avec son concept de revalorsiation des eaux usées procurent aux agriculteurs des engrais naturels tout en résolvant la problématique du traitement des eaux usées et leurs boues d'assainissement.
jean Marius
Lyseconcept with its concept of revalorsiation wastewater provide farmers natural fertilizers while solving the problem of waste water treatment and wastewater sludge
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