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Overfarming and Land Misuse

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Summary

Unsustainable agricultural practices lead to the degradation of land over time, infertile soil and food scarcity, among other issues. Overfarming can be the result of practices such as deforestation, planting new crops immediately after the previous crops are harvested and the misuse of pesticides — all depleting soil of its naturally occurring nutrients.1 Approximately 40 percent of soil used for agriculture is degraded or severely degraded. Seventy percent of the world’s topsoil — the part of the soil that enables plants to germinate — is also degraded.2 Soil erosion is most severe in China, Africa, India and South America.3 In Africa, nearly 75 percent of the farmland is depleted of the nutrients necessary for crop growth, and most farmers are unable to afford the fertilizer needed to replenish the soil.4 As the population grows, and crop production decreases, many farmers continue to overfarm their land, resulting in smaller and smaller yields. Overfarming has exacerbated the hunger crisis on the African continent, affecting over 240 million people.5 If such practices continue, crop yields in Africa are projected to decrease by more than 30 percent in the next 15 years.6 Some crops are particularly problematic in contributing to soil erosion including soy, coffee, cotton, corn, palm oil, rice, sorghum, tea, tobacco and wheat. Brazil alone loses nearly 55 million tons of topsoil as a result of soy farming.7 The Economics of Land Degradation Initiative estimates that $6.3 to $10.6 trillion are lost annually as a result of soil degradation and the exhaustion of ecosystems.8 Show References
1 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/09/15/damaging-the-land-we-live-on-is-costing-humans-trillions-every-year/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f1b0f1aa0e7c 2 http://world.time.com/2012/12/14/what-if-the-worlds-soil-runs-out/ 3 Ibid 4 http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/31/world/africa/31soil.html?_r=0 5–6 Ibid 7 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/09/15/damaging-the-land-we-live-on-is-costing-humans-trillions-every-year/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f1b0f1aa0e7c 8 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/09/15/damaging-the-land-we-live-on-is-costing-humans-trillions-every-year/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f1b0f1aa0e7c
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