The Meat and Dairy Industries' Harmful Effect on the Environment

Salinization, Erosion, and Eutrophication
Sunday November 25th 2007, 5:13 pm
Filed under: Michelle research

By: Michelle 

This is a simple explanation of salinization, erosion, and eutrophication, which can all be caused by the agriculture industry in some form or way.

Salinization happens when there is a high concentration of salts in the soil. If there is too much salt in the soil, it can be toxic to plants, which can wither and die, or the plants can not grow at all. At mass-producing farms, all of the wastes from the animals contain a high level of phosphates and nitrates, which are natural salts. If the wastes are just disposed into a giant pile in the corner of a field (which they often are), the salts seep into the soil, and kills the grasses in the area.

 Usually with salinization comes erosion. Salinization can kill key plants and grasses which are used to hold the soil together. If the soil isn’t held together, then it can easily erode into streams and ponds. If the soil has a high concentration of nitrates and phosphates, then it can kill fish and cause eutrophication: the increase of chemical nutrients that can spur plant growth. Usually eutrophication causes algae blooms, or water grasses to grow. When there is a large amount of algae or plants in the water, it takes oxygen out of the water, and releases carbon dioxide into the water. When there is less oxygen in the water, fish can die (if they were not already dead by the high concentration of salts).

So extremely simplified: Salinization can lead to erosion which can lead to eutrophication.

Here are some diagrams that demonstrates many of the origins of erosion and eutrophication:

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