Agricultural waste may produce several harmful effects, including health risks and contamination of surrounding water bodies and the atmosphere. Agricultural waste, if not properly disposed of, can cause short-term and long-term effects on ecosystems, land and broader environments by introducing foreign toxins into the soil and water.
Agricultural pollution comes from several sources. Pesticides and fertilizers comprise the bulk of agricultural waste and include man-made synthetic chemicals and materials. Synthetic compounds often do not biodegrade upon exposure to the air or water and may linger for decades or even a century. These chemicals are sprayed on crop fields to keep insects away and enter streams and waterways as runoff. Contaminated water is another primary effect of agricultural waste; water becomes contaminated through fertilizer and pesticide residue, along with pathogens such as viruses and bacteria, which may enter drinking water systems. According to Conserve Energy Future, agricultural pollution is a primary source of pollution in water and lakes, as chemicals and toxins make their way into groundwater upon settling at the bottoms of these large water bodies. The accumulation of these substances ultimately leads to health issues such as blue baby syndrome and neurological ailments. Agricultural waste can also negatively affect aquatic animals and plants because fertilizers, manure, ammonia and waste make their way into local environments and disrupt ecosystem processes.