Blame it on all the cows. A report commissioned by the New Zealand government cited intense growth in dairy farming as a major cause of environmental degradation in New Zealand.
The report found that the number of dairy cows in New Zealand had increased by 34 percent between 1994 and 2002 while the land area used by dairy farms expanded by 12 percent.
Alarmingly, the use of synthetic fertilizer grew by 21 percent while the use of urea fertilizers (a white crystalline solid containing 46 percent nitrogen) soared by 160 percent.
“There is strong evidence our waterways and lakes are becoming nutrient enriched and degraded from nitrogen, animal faecal matter, and eroded sediment,” the report said.
Most of the low-lying rivers and lakes in farming areas were harmed, some to the point that they were unfit even for stock to drink from.
The report cites concerns that the continued degradation of the environment will hurt New Zealand’s ‘clean and green’ image, and perhaps reduce the market for New Zealand agricultural products.
Sounds like a familiar story. Agricultural runoff is a major factor in the ‘dead zone,’ a hypoxic region of the Gulf of Mexico emanating from the Mississippi delta. Runoff from farms also contributed to the ecological collapse of the Black Sea. I guess no place is safe from pollution anymore.