Live revision! Join us for our free exam revision livestreams Watch now

In the News

Externalities - UK farming causes over a quarter of cities’ particle pollution

Graham Watson

26th March 2023

An interesting perspective on urban pollution is offered by this Guardian article that highlight the problems associated with particulate matter, and remarkably, the extent to which this is generated by agriculture.

Yes, you read that correctly. For all the concern about urban congestion, it seems that farming is responsible for more than a quarter of all particulate matter in Britain's cities, and if we're to tackle it, we'll need a coherent approach.

Please read: UK farming causes over a quarter of cities’ particle pollution, study finds

The farming practices in the UK can contribute to particle pollution in cities through several mechanisms. One of the primary causes of particle pollution is the burning of fossil fuels, which includes the burning of diesel fuel for agricultural machinery such as tractors and harvesters. These machines can generate significant amounts of particulate matter, especially when they are operated in areas with high traffic or where there are many other sources of particulate matter.

Additionally, farming activities such as ploughing, tilling, and harvesting can cause dust and soil particles to become airborne, which can then be carried by the wind into nearby cities. Animal agriculture is also a significant source of ammonia, which can react with other air pollutants to form fine particulate matter.

Furthermore, fertilizers and manure used in agriculture contain nitrogen and phosphorous, which can contribute to the formation of fine particulate matter through a process called atmospheric nitrogen deposition. This process occurs when the nitrogen in the fertilizer or manure reacts with other air pollutants to form particles.

Graham Watson

Graham Watson has taught Economics for over twenty years. He contributes to tutor2u, reads voraciously and is interested in all aspects of Teaching and Learning.

© 2002-2024 Tutor2u Limited. Company Reg no: 04489574. VAT reg no 816865400.