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Return to Categories of Pollution: Nonpoint Source

Agricultural runoff accounts for a significant amount of nonpoint source pollution

Agricultural runoff accounts for a significant amount of nonpoint source pollution. Click on image for larger view.

Agricultural operations account for a large percentage of nonpoint source pollution in the United States (USEPA, 2004c). According to the Census of Agriculture, approximately 940 million acres of farmland existed in the United States in 2002 (USDA, 2004). While the vast breadth of this land provides space for farming -- an industry that provides the backbone of the U.S. economy, not to mention much of the food we eat -- it also creates numerous opportunities for nonpoint source pollution. 

In agriculture, large tracts of land are typically plowed to grow crops. Plowing the land exposes and disturbs the soil, making it more vulnerable to erosion during rainstorms. This increases the runoff that carries fertilizers and pesticides away from the farm and into nearby waters.

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