Any change in the environment affects all living things in and around them. Both air pollution and soil pollution has direct impact on the plant’s growth. Plants are the primary victims of pollution. Most of the air borne pollutants contaminate the soil and then reaches the water also. Terrestrial and aquatic plants are threatened with such pollutants. Another environmental factor that affects the plants is the climate changes arising due to presence or absence of many elements in soil and air. Anything that affects the plants affects the whole ecosystem. The products from the affected plants are consumed by us and have some impact on our health. Many of the impacts are not visible and stay hidden for a while before showing up. So it is our duty to save our environment and the plants to have a better life in present and future.
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Here are a few impacts, the environment pollution has on the plants. And we will also see the factors that cause the problems and some tips by which we can reduce the impact as well as the production of them.
1. Algal Blooms is a big concern for the aquatic plants. Algae are in all types of water but since they are microscopic, our naked eye may not notice them. They do lie in a good amount in our ponds. They do some beneficial work for the other aquatic plants around. But due to the water pollution from the acid rain and other sources, they flourish. The excess of nitrogen and phosphorous makes way to algal blooms and fills up the water making less space for other plants to grow. This algal bloom takes up all the oxygen available and chokes the aquatic plants to death.
2. Aluminum toxicity: Aluminum is found naturally in the soil. The soil pollution makes the inorganic form of aluminum mobile and makes it available for the plants. But this inorganic aluminum is toxic and the plants that absorb this are affected by it. This aluminum when coupled with low pH of 5.5 are readily absorbed by the plants. It affects the root growth in plants.
3. Photosynthesis: The major impact of environment pollution is the reduction in the photosynthetic activity. The disruption in the soil composure, even if it is minor makes a huge impact on the photosynthesis. The pollution reduces the plant’s ability to take the nutrients available. The plants that don’t get nutrients cannot perform photosynthesis and that affects their growth as well.
4. Soil Acidity: The pollutants that contaminates the air, when comes in contact with rain water gets down to the soil to pollute the soil. These pollutants are dissolved in water and are acidic in nature. This acidic substance makes the soil acidic making it unsuitable for the plants to survive.
5. Soil Fertility: The pollutants deplete the nutrients and make the soil unsuitable for the plants to grow. It also imbalances the good and bad microbes in the soil. It also changes the soil structure. This change in structure makes the plants impossible to adapt to the circumstances. Sometimes the change in the soil form can makes it entirely unsuitable for any kind of plants to grow in future.
6. Soil Micro-organisms are an important factor that determines both the soil fertility and the favorable environment for the growing plants. All micro organisms are not harmful, some are beneficial. It is the beneficial microbes that need to be retained in good amount in the soil for flourishing growth. The pollutants make the soil acidic and these microbes break the organic materials faster to increase the water flow.
7. Soil pH is also a major factor that determines the successful plant growth. Plants cannot survive in an acidic pH. The pH of the soil should be near the neutral mark. The pollutant that comes down to the soil makes this unattainable. The same goes with the water pH in case of the aquatic plants. The acidic rain makes the water intolerable for the plants.
8. Greenhouse gases have been affecting the environment for a long time now. The fossil fuel like petroleum products emit more amount of such green house gases that helps only in increasing the environment temperature. One of the major members in these gases are carbon dioxide. The over production of CO2 and the deforestation increases its presence. This creates a layer over the atmosphere and keeps the other gases inside which causes global warming. The impact of global warming in unpredictable climate changes. It will be most common to see rain in summer or snow storm in the rainy season. These changes affect the plants more. Most plants are seasonal and the change in season changes their growth pattern.
9. Ozone: More amount of Ozone can affect the plant leaves. Ozone enters the plants through respiration and can produce many compounds that can reduce the growth, flowering, and fruit production. The plants become weak and the plants are more prone to diseases than the other organisms. Such plants also show less tolerance to climatic changes. The leaves of the affected plants have brown spots
10. Flowering patterns: the use of artificial lights at night produce more amount of red light at night. This disrupts the lighting pattern for the plants to have light absorption. The plants do need some no-light-period. Having artificial light at night impacts the biological clock of the plants. The impact is seen in its flowering pattern. Continuous light makes the plants develop bigger leaves and the chances of more exposure to pollution or infections. High pressure sodium lights and incandescent lights are the most harmful. The fluorescent, mercury vapor lights, and metal halide lights are comparatively low intensity lights. High sensitive plants should be kept or planted away from the high intensity light producing lights.
Pollutants affecting the plants and their symptoms
- Sulfur dioxide when it comes in contact with rain or water becomes sulphuric acid that affects the acidity of the soil and the water available. The effects of this on the plants are visible on its leaves. White, dry blotches are seen on the leaves. These blotches are seen closer to the veins or at the margins. In high concentration it causes darker brown spots on both upper and lower surfaces of the leaves. Under high humidity and sunlight the impact is severe.
- PeroxyAcetyl Nitrates affects the lower surface tissues. There are blotches seen which are bronze or silver in color. The affected leaves undergo senescence faster than usual.
- Nitrogen Oxides makes way to eutrophication or the over presence of plant nutrients. The presence of abundant nutrients is benefited by other unwanted weeds and algae. This leads to algal blooms that take up more oxygen leaving very little for the other plants around.
- Ethylene is a byproduct of the burning of the petroleum gases. It is also produced from wood and tobacco smoke. Ethylene affects the hormone balance of the plants. Ethylene stunts the plant growth. It also affects the organ development in younger plants and causes tissue damage. The affected leaves may curl downwards.
- Palm oil fuel ash or dearly called POFA is the product of the burning of any part of the palm tree, after taking the palm oil. The resultant ash is an environmental hazard when discarded as it is and heap up in the landfills. This can create unhealthy conditions for the nearby plants and they cannot grow healthy. The recent discovery that this POFA is useful in concrete has reduced its impact and has found a way to reuse the ash in a beneficial manner.
Tips to Lessen Environmental Impact on Gardening – Global Warming Gardening
It is better not to expect any major changes overnight. What we can do is to change a few things to make the environment or surroundings favorable for the plants.
- Plan the garden away from the direct vicinity of the traffic. This helps lessen the exposure to the fuel gases.
- Hedging is a good idea for both shading to the smaller plants near and as a protective barrier. It will also add some privacy to the garden.
- Opt for organic or natural fertilizers and pesticides and reduce the use of chemicals as much as possible. This will benefit the plants as well as us the humans who consume the fruits and vegetables produced by them.
- Have at least one tree in the garden to take up as much carbon dioxide as possible and lessen the global warming.
- Car pooling helps reduce the consumption of petrol/diesel and also in emission of the lethal gases from its use. Lesser gases mean better breathing air for plants.
- Lessen the usage of plastic and go green with recycled products.
- Favor plantation than removing the plants.
- Use only biodegradable products that do not affect the environment negatively and that can add to the fertility and nutrition of the soil.
- Try carbon fixing and nitrogen fixing plants as alternate crops in between.
- Choose to do composting than using fertilizers.
Benefits of Organic Gardening – Going Green Gardening
There are many health benefits of organic gardening. There are many pesticides and chemicals that can be detrimental for human health and have been linked to spread:
- Breast cancer
- Birth defects
- Damaged brain function
- Childhood leukemia
- Autism and many more
Many studies have shown that the use of chemicals can trigger increase of toxic release in the climate that can not only impact the environment but also affect all the living beings in one way or another. Pesticides not only kill harmful insects but also the beneficial ones that actually promote the soil in many ways.
Organic gardening have been argued very much and many critics that its impossible to grow without including a little bit of fertilizer but its a challenge that needs to accomplished using all the natural remedies to grow plants without any intervention of rodents and pesticides that destroy the plants. Frankly companies that fertilizer benefit a lot by minting money but they don’t help us or the plants in any way possible. Do not let them push your positive thoughts down and strive to make the world a better place.
Whatever we do, we cannot reverse the effects that are on the plants by the environmental factors. What we can do is lessen the impact and try not to create the affecting factors or reduce the usage of product that can produce such factors. Its time to start gardening for the environment and begin a new initiative that can positively impact the Mother Earth. Make it a point to do it proactively because the negative effects are much more than what we can imagine. It is our duty to provide our next generation a better place to live and have healthy plants that produce good fruits and vegetables and of course beautiful and healthy flowers.