Agriculture and farming are present in many areas of almost every country. It’s an important part of
the economy which supplies food to a great majority of the population. But how does this affect
water quality? It is quite certain that the farming industry can pose some dangers to water quality as
many substances used in farming are prone to leak and infiltrate into drinking water sources.
How does farming affect water quality?
It might sound peculiar to link farming and water quality issues but the truth is, improper farming
practices are very likely to contaminate a drinking water source. There are certain possible practices
that affect water safety.
Pollution due to improperly placed or administered feeding operations to animals is one factor that
alters water quality. Overgrazed fields are prone to facilitate chemical leakages toward groundwater.
Plowing fields too often or at the wrong time of the year are other factors that can affect water
quality. All of these lead to sedimentation, runoffs, and favorable conditions for pathogens.
Lastly, we have pesticides, the most talked about contaminant that results from farming. These
contaminants are most likely to cause issues because of improper, exaggerated, or inaptly timed use
which seeps into water sources.
Generally, water from wells has the most to suffer because of these practices, and as such, the use
of water filters is a must to ensure safety. If you want to learn how to install a well water filter you
may need to consult certain sources either online or from manufacturers.
Improving water quality affected by agriculture
Most often the farming industry is the one that needs to take the larger portion of the responsibility.
There are, of course, solutions available to protect water sources.
Combating erosion and sedimentation
Farms that deal in crops are susceptible to produce sedimentation due to factors like plowing that
produce runoff. To combat this, farmers can use winter covers over crops that significantly reduce
Not only that but making use of a fenced-off riparian zone is maybe the best way to ensure less
contamination to nearby waterways. Building a riparian zone is quite difficult and usually, farmers
benefit from government funding to make it. A riparian zone implies planting vegetation and
effectively creating an ecosystem around the water flow.
Farming can also include ranching and animal management. Even these are capable of affecting
water quality. With this in mind, specific steps to reduce their impact need to be taken. Feeding is
something that is done in a designated space to keep animals secure and provide efficiency. But this
in turn will mean that waste will collect in a small area that can then be taken up by runoffs and
dumped in local water sources if poorly managed. Adequate waste management systems for
wastewater are the best way to ensure runoffs are limited.
Grazing is one aspect that can easily get ignored when factoring in its impact on drinking water.
Overgrazing to be exact is something that leads to exposed soil and erosion which in turn makes it
easy for contaminants to reach water sources. This issue is something to adjust with frequently
moving animals grazing to maintain that pasture as much as possible.
Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are applied to fields in the form of fertilizers, manure, and
even sludge to supplement nutrients to the soil. Adding too many fertilizers or just before rain,
results in nitrate contamination. A solution for this is to catch and cover crops, which not only helps
with minimizing erosion but also prevents nitrates from leaching into the soil and subsequently into
Designing a proper drainage system is another way to reduce nitrate loads on fields and soil. Regular
soil testing will show just how effective this can be in combating nitrate contamination and indicate
if other strategies are necessary. Of course, the best way to avoid pesticide contamination in water
would be not to use it at all. Since that is not an option, then at least making sure it is effectively
applied and away from waterways is the next option.
Making use of water filters for wells
On the consumer side of this, even though there is not much that can be done with regard to
securing farming areas, there are a few considerations. For one, knowing what the local
environment is like is important especially if the main source of water is from a well.
If a farm or ranch is nearby, then it will probably affect the well water source in some way or
another. Typically, water from wells is not regulated by the city as they fall under the private sector
and as private water sources, it’s up to the owners to make sure it’s safe to consume.
To clean water from a well there is usually the need for a multilayered water filtering system that
can deal with sediment, pathogens, pesticides, and more. UV filters are best suited to take care of
pathogens while whole house water filters in combination with a reverse osmosis filter can take care
of the rest.
There isn’t exactly a one size fits all, and water tests will more safely indicate what will be in the
water and thus what best way to tackle the issue. Regular water checks will also need to be
undertaken to know what has changed over a period of time.
Drinking water and the farming industry are always in tandem and one affects the other more than
expected. It’s important to take note of any nearby farms and what they deal in, as animals pose a
whole slew of different issues to water quality. Measures can be taken to make drinking water safer,
but it’s usually mostly down to farm management than it is to everyday consumers.