How air pollution affects food production and how we can fix it

Farming and fertiliser are not often the first think people think of when talking about air pollution, but research has revealed food production plays a large role in polluting our air.

Fertiliser revolutionised farming when it was first invented in the 19th century, but now so widespread its contributing to environmental degradation.

In fact, fertilisers can create ground-level ozone which affects crops and human health, leading to a profound impact on the economy and human lives.

In our September issue of Air Quality News, journalist Georgie Hughes spoke to Professor Jan Willem Erisman, Professor of Environmental Sustainability, from the Institute of Environmental Sciences at Leiden University about this.

They discuss how fertilisers contribute to air pollution and whether they can affect crop growth and food security.

Additionally, Ian Wilkinson, the owner of a farming education centre called FarmED, speaks about his past experiences with farming and considers how the culture has changed as farmers have become more aware of environmental challenges.

He said: ‘All the farmers out there like me who started back in the 1970s and 80s, none of us intended these consequences whatsoever. We genuinely thought we were doing the right thing following public policy.’

Crop production has been a much-discussed topic as of late, as the war in Ukraine has meant a drop in exports from both there and Russia, leading to food insecurity.

A recent study by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) found the Russian invasion would increase carbon emissions and food prices.

Researchers believe the war will drive other countries to ramp up domestic production which could negatively impact the climate, as countries choose to clear land and vegetation to plant more crops.

The full article can read in the latest issue of Air Quality News magazine below.


Photo by Tomas Hertogh


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