When one crop continues to grow over and over again, nutrients and minerals in the soil are exhausted. Naturally, these items are restored and used in a cycle that sustains an ecosystem.
In a natural ecosystem, many different plants and animals give and take different nutrients from the soil. This is valuable for a variety of species, which helps to ensure vast diversity in the ecosystem. Different plants provide different benefits to the ecosystem that help to support a more vast number of animals.
This system helps to create a natural ecosystem that plants and animals flourish in. When the same crop is grown over and over again such as with cash crop agriculture of the time, it deprives the ecosystems of this diversity and nutrients.
The loss of the different nutrients makes the soil unfertile to support different plants. This, in turn, causes the loss of habitat for certain animals. The dominos effect in the environment continues on, and the ripples get bigger and bigger.
In today’s society we fight such problems with crop diversity, and supplements that we spray in the soil. By doing this we can continue to get the high crop yields that farmers want so their fields yield the most money as possible. But back then they didn’t have such technology. It can never be known how many ecosystems were damaged to complete extinction, or how many animals are now lost to us because their habitats were destroyed. That is a sacrifice that farmers of their period made in the search for more and more money.
Another problem that cash crop agriculture has on the environment is that of soil erosion. With farmers plowing more and more land in order to grow more and more crops, the soil had nothing holding it down. In a more natural ecosystem, the various grasses, weeds, and trees helped to keep the soil intact, and in place. But when the fields were plowed, and the trees cut, there was nothing to keep the soil there anymore. The rains wash the soil into the streams and rivers, causing water quality depletion, and choking the waterways with sediment. Again the ripple effect will continue to grow from within the rivers, which helps to damage more ecosystems downstream from the farms as well as those the farms effect directly. After the good soil has been washed away, farmers no longer get the yield of crops that they desire; so new fields are plowed, and more trees are cut in order to create new fields.
Cash crops caused desperate effects on the environment. Poor/Low soil quality, loss of forests, sediment build up in waterways, and the list goes on and on. It’s difficult to understand the extent that cash crop agriculture has done to the environment, but it is sure to be sizeable. We have already seen one major environmental disaster agriculture has caused the Dust Bowl. Other effects may not be as clear, but they may have even worse effects on the ecosystems. How many species of different plants have been lost? How many animals will we not have opportune to see again?
What cures and benefits did those animals have that we will never know? These are questions that we should review and but later regret that we don’t have the answers for them. By so doing we will be a little more environmentally conscious the next time we find a resource that we want. Those questions can help us save the environments that we, as humans, so often destroy in our pursuit of money. Read Here