How does agriculture impact soil degradation


The degradation comes from several sources but it is mainly from extensive agriculture. This results is depletion, erosion, modification or disturbance of the soil that is considered harmful or undesirable. This degradation leads to a phenomenon which is the disappearance of nutrients and minerals needed for plant growth.

When agriculture fields replace natural vegetation, topsoil is exposed and can dry out. The diversity and quantity of microorganisms that help to keep the soil fertile can decrease, and nutrients may wash out. Soil can be blown away by the winds or washed away by rains.


How to prevent soil degradation?

  • Since we aren’t going to stop eating meat, it’s highly recommended that we change our grazing practices. …
  • Irrigation practices need to be modernized to tackle land degradation. …
  • We need to stick to organic sources to improve soil fertility and productivity. …

More items…

How to prevent and reduce soil pollution?

What can I do to reduce land pollution?

  • Use bio-fertilisers. A bio-fertiliser is a substance containing living microorganisms. …
  • Reduce your toxic waste levels. Chemical and oil spills do occur in the areas that are most synonymous with soil pollution (i.e. …
  • Reduce your waste in general. …
  • Recycle your waste. …
  • Use natural soil additives. …

Why is soil degradation bad?

You can reduce soil erosion by:

  • Maintaining a healthy, perennial plant cover.
  • Mulching.
  • Planting a cover crop – such as winter rye in vegetable gardens.
  • Placing crushed stone, wood chips, and other similar materials in heavily used areas where vegetation is hard to establish and maintain.

What are the types of degradation?

We validated the use of coulombs transferred between the active cell circuit and ground as an index for quantitatively predicting degradation rate in the field for two thin-film module types undergoing potential-induced degradation (PID). The dependence …


How does agriculture affect soil?

Farming practices such as tilling break up the soil and destroy its natural structure, killing many of the vital bacteria and fungi that live there and leaving it vulnerable to being washed away. “Soil is not just useful for helping us grow food,” says Vargas.

What is soil degradation in agriculture?

Soil degradation is the decline in soil condition caused by its improper use or poor management, usually for agricultural, industrial or urban purposes. It is a serious environmental problem.

What causes agricultural degradation?

It can be caused by natural hazards, mismanagement of land as well as unsuitable land use.

How does agriculture contribute to environmental degradation?

Agriculture contributes to a number larger of environmental issues that cause environmental degradation including: climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss, dead zones, genetic engineering, irrigation problems, pollutants, soil degradation, and waste.

How agriculture contributes to the soil and water degradation?

Agriculture, which accounts for 70 percent of water withdrawals worldwide, plays a major role in water pollution. Farms discharge large quantities of agrochemicals, organic matter, drug residues, sediments and saline drainage into water bodies.

What causes soil degradation?

While soil degradation is a natural process, it can also be caused by human activity. In the last few decades, soil degradation has been sped up by intensive farming practices like deforestation, overgrazing, intensive cultivation, forest fires and construction work.

How is agricultural development linked to land degradation?

Empirical studies show that soil erosion and degradation of agricultural land not only decrease land productivity but that they can also result in major downstream or off-site damage (e.g. reduction of hydroelectric production) which may be several times that of on-site damage.

How farming destroy the quantity of soil?

Excessive cultivation, for example, can wreck the structure of some soils so that they are no longer capable of holding enough moisture for growing plants. Salinization, or the accumulation of salts in the topsoil, can also have a deletrious effect on soil productivity and crop yields.

What are the effects of soil degradation?

Soil erosion decreases agricultural productivity, degrades ecosystem functions, amplifies hydrogeological risk such as landslides or floods, causes significant losses in biodiversity, damage to urban infrastructure and, in severe cases, leads to displacement of human populations.

How does agriculture pollute the environment?

Pollutants from agriculture greatly affect water quality and can be found in lakes, rivers, wetlands, estuaries, and groundwater. Pollutants from farming include sediments, nutrients, pathogens, pesticides, metals, and salts. Animal agriculture has an outsized impact on pollutants that enter the environment.

How agriculture contributes to the environment?

Agriculture contributes to climate change At every stage, food provisioning releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Farming in particular releases significant amounts of methane and nitrous oxide, two powerful greenhouse gases.

What are the disadvantages of agriculture?

Cons of AgricultureRisks of child labor. The increased demand for agricultural products calls for increased labor to realize huge profits. … Environmental pollution. … Health issues. … Agriculture leads to overgrazing. … Agriculture may disturb the family dynamics. … Spread of diseases. … Unpredictable weather. … Misuse of land.

What is soil degradation simple definition?

Soil degradation is defined as a change in the soil health status resulting in a diminished capacity of the ecosystem to provide goods and services for its beneficiaries. Degraded soils have a health status such, that they do not provide the normal goods and services of the particular soil in its ecosystem.

What are three types of soil degradation?

Types of Soil DegradationErosion. Erosion occurs when the topsoil that many plants need to grow gets blown or washed away. … Acid Rain. Acid rain causes soil degradation, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. … Salinization. … Nutrient Loss.

What is soil degradation Wikipedia?

Soil degradation may also be viewed as any change or ecological disturbance to the soil perceived to be deleterious or undesirable.

What is the difference between soil erosion and soil degradation?

Land degradation is a process in which value of land is affected by human activities. Land degradation is a broader definition which includes degradation due to pollution, wind erosion etc. Soil erosion refers to the removal of top soil which is considered to be most fertile. Soil erosion is a part of land degradation.

What is soil degradation?

Soil degradation is a process in which the value of the land and its biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human actions and non-natural phenomenons. The degradation comes from several sources but it is mainly from extensive agriculture.

How many ha of soil are affected by human induced soil degradation?

Globally, human-induced soil degradation has affected 1965 million ha. In the case of the World’s drylands, estimates by Dregne and Chou (1992) indicated that the continents of Africa and Asia are particularly affected by land degradation.

Why do worms disappear?

Even if extinction of species is not the first thing we think about when we speak about soil erosion, it is one of its effects. In fact it is one the biggest source of animals disappearance. 40% of the worm population has disappear since 1950. The most obvious cause is certainly pesticides that are very harmful for them. But salinisation represent a big source of death due to the sensitiveness of worms to salt.

How much of Europe’s soil is degraded by humans?

We can consider that agriculture is responsible for 80% of the soil degradation in Europe and scientists estimate that 40% of lands in Europe are already degraded because of human actions. If playback doesn’t begin shortly, try restarting your device.

How does soil contribute to food production?

Our soils support 95 percent of all food production, and by 2060, our soils will be asked to give us as much food as we have consumed in the last 500 years. They filter our water. They are one of our most cost-effective reservoirs for sequestering carbon. They are our foundation for biodiversity. And they are vibrantly alive, teeming with 4500 kilo’s of biological life in every acre. Yet in the last 150 years, we’ve lost half of the basic building block that makes soil productive. The societal and environmental costs of soil loss and degradation in the United States alone are now estimated to be as high as $85 billion every single year. Like any relationship, our living soil needs our tenderness. It’s time we changed everything we thought we knew about soil. Let’s make this the century of living soil.

What is the impact of exploitation on soil?

These exploitations are massively polluting and source of soil erosion. For example, in South America, we consider that 60% of the soil is degraded and 70% of this degradation comes from the land used to grow food for animals.

Why is land often altered?

Land is commonly altered from its natural landscape when it rids its physical composition from soil degradation. For this reason, the transformed land is unable to soak up water, making flooding more frequent. In other words, soil degradation takes away the soil’s natural capability of holding water thus contributing to more and more cases of flooding.

How does the United Nations respond to the problem of soil degradation?

United Nations they aim to respond to this problem globally by helping the most policy makers in countries who cannot answer this problem on their own, and will focus their resources on risk identification and mitigation of soil degradation by erosion.

What are the main drivers of land degradation?

Basic agricultural systems are at the same time major drivers of land degradation and the environment and a significant resource major biogenic emissions greenhouse gases.

Why is soil erosion important?

Soil erosion is a major global threat land degradation for land, watercourses and oceans. Improving knowledge of probabilities future erosion rates land, accelerated by human activity, is important as for policy makers dealing with land use decisions, as well as for system creators who want to reduce uncertainty in global forecasts.

How does fertilizer affect the environment?

Excessive use of mineral fertilizers in the long run impoverishes the land, negatively affects the formation of organic matter, destroys biodiversity, and due to the discharge of their surpluses into the basins and groundwater it represents danger to the environment and all of us.

What is the basic key to the sustainability of agricultural production?

We do not have to emphasize that rational land management, as a natural resource, is the basic key to the sustainability of agricultural production.

What is controlled addition of mineral fertilizers?

Controlled addition of mineral fertilizers, by determining the required irrigation norms, as well as good agro – technical measures, we will manage to preserve our fertile land.

Why was the nitrates directive passed?

In 1991, it was passed and Nitrates Directive of the European Union to protect and prevent further excessive pollution of groundwater and drinking water nitratima. Existing pollution is the biggest caused by agriculture, that is, by improper fertilization and improper manure storage.

How does agriculture affect the ecosystem?

Sustainable and regenerative agriculture seeks to ameliorate soil health, se questering carbon, storing water and building healthier farm ecosystems along the way.

Why is erosion bad for agriculture?

In some cases, this loss causes a change in the structure of agricultural soils, which can, in turn, lead to increased susceptibility to drought. 32 Eroded soil can turn into runoff and wash into local waterways, carrying not only soil particles, but any contaminants in that soil (such as synthetic fertilizer and pesticides). 33 Wind erosion can cause significant topsoil loss, as well as health problems, property damage, and harm to crops. 34 Erosion can also be a cause of flooding, as damaged soil cannot absorb as much water as healthy soil.

What is monocropping in agriculture?

Monocropping, or even the “simple” crop rotation mentioned above, causes a cascade of problems, necessitating not only the use of synthetic fertilizers (because soil becomes depleted), but also the use of pesticides to control pests, like soil fungi , insects and other agricultural nuisances.

What is soil erosion?

In agriculture, soil erosion usually refers to topsoil particles wearing away through wind, water and through farming activities, like tillage. 29 Erosion is caused by many different factors, but poor soil management, including tilling, can cause significant erosion over time, as can practices such as not planting cover crops in winter and not mulching. 30 Tillage erosion can cause both wind and water erosion as poorly-managed soils are more susceptible to both. 31

What is the practice of growing the same crop on the same plot of land, year after year?

Monocropping is the practice of growing the same crop on the same plot of land, year after year. This practice depletes the soil of nutrients (making the soil less productive over time), reduces organic matter in soil and can cause significant erosion.

What are the effects of nitrogen fertilizer on plants?

1112Some types of nitrogen fertilizer can cause soil acidification , which can affect plant growth. 13Excessive fertilizer use can also cause a buildup of salts in soil, heavy metal contamination and accumulation of nitrate (which is a source of water pollution and also harmful to humans). 14.

How does synthetic fertilizer affect soil?

Synthetic Fertilizers Negatively Impact Soil Health. All plants need nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) for healthy growth and productivity. These macronutrients (in addition to other macro- and micronutrients) form the basis of healthy soils.

How does soil degradation affect organic matter?

The soil degradation of organic matter is a process fundamentally mediated by soil microorganisms and their production of a vast range of EEs, which serve two main functions (Table 25.1 ). The first one involves their ability to catalyze a multitude of chemical reactions associated with the degradation of organic matter ( Adl, 2016 ). The second one regards the necessity to acquire energy and nutrients for producers of extracellular enzymes. Thus enzyme activity in soils is a predominant factor for the quality of soil organic matter including the availability of carbon and nitrogen ( Wallenstein et al., 2011 ). The synthesis and secretion of such enzymes are immensely expensive in regards to the amounts of energy necessary to do so. Thus a range of specific ecological strategies and regulatory mechanisms had evolved to ensure its efficiency ( Sadhu and Maiti, 2013 ). Nevertheless, it has to be pointed out, that soil is always a hostile environment for all extracellular enzymes as, once out of the cell, they are subjected to the degradation and denaturation that makes them particularly vulnerable to changing environmental conditions ( Li et al., 2014 ).

What are the main causes of soil degradation?

The main causes of soil degradation and, consequently, the main threats to its ecological functions are erosion, organic matter decline, loss of biodiversity, compaction, sealing, point-source and diffused contamination, pollution, and salinization ( Fig. 9.14) ( Montanarella, 2007 ).

How does desertification affect the world?

At the extreme, complete desertification may arise, and can be driven by both natural processes (e.g., annual regional fluctuations from variable rainfall patterns) and human interventions. The United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment estimates that desertification threatens the semiarid and arid areas that comprise over a third of the earth’s total land area, on which 2 billion inhabitants are dependent. The African continent is highly vulnerable to this process, with more than 60% of its land area composed of deserts or dryland, and many regions are subject to severe droughts. Over a quarter of China is also affected by desertification.

How does soil compaction and sealing affect floods?

Regulation of floods. Soil compaction and sealing reduce infiltration and increase surface runoff, which favors the formation of flooded areas. In addition, soil erosion and sedimentation of river courses favors the formation of floods during pluvial episodes. Provide refuge, nurseries, and habitats for organisms.

How much of the Earth’s soil is degraded?

In Asia, approximately 40% of the soils are classified as degraded. The availability and viability of soils for meeting global food requirements have a profound effect on the intake of both macro- and micronutrients, including trace elements, and, therefore, far-reaching consequences for health. Declines in the total area of soil suitable for production of foodstuffs arise from three principal processes:

What are the environmental problems in developing countries?

Soil degradation, including erosion and loss of fertility, is considered the most significant environmental problem in developing countries (Fig. 2.1 ). Increased erosion, particularly related to strong rains and runoff, causes turbidity with several consequences for lake and reservoir water quality, including:

What are the effects of exploitation of soil?

Exacerbated exploitation of soil materials may deplete the source of materials, causing severe erosive processes such as gullies, silting of watercourses, and contamination.

What is soil degradation?

Soil degradation describes what happens when the quality of soil declines and diminishes its capacity to support animals and plants. Soil can lose certain physical, chemical or biological qualities that underpin the web of life within it.

How does soil affect climate?

It is the second-largest carbon sink after the ocean, constantly storing and releasing carbon, which regulates atmospheric CO 2 concentrations and, ultimately, the greenhouse effect.

Why is crop rotation important?

This damages nature further and can cause sickness in both humans and animals. Here are some solutions: Practicing crop rotation allows different plants to grow in an area of soil every year. This allows the soil to replenish itself of nutrients that are lacking after the growth of one type of plant.

What are the benefits of soil?

The benefits of soil. The millions of organisms that live within soil interact with one another and contribute to a number of cycles that make all life on Earth possible. These include carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles. Soil plays a vital role in cleaning water.

What is the most widespread soil in Britain?

Image by Ellen Larson/ wiki ( CC BY 2.5 ). One of the most widespread soils in Britain is brown earth, which covers about 45% of land in England and Wales. Brown earth has a deep top layer where most of the nutrients are and biological activities take place.

How does soil help prevent floods?

Soil also regulates the movement of water and prevents floods by controlling whether rainfall, snowfall and irrigation water will flow over land or through it. Healthy soil contains high biodiversity, which helps fight off pests and allows fresh, nutritious plants to grow.

How many varieties of soil are there in the UK?

The UK alone has over 700 varieties, such as clay, sand, silt, loam and peat. These soils have different characteristics which can be useful for humans. Healthy soil has a good combination of soil structure, chemistry, organic matter content, biology and water permeation for its type.

How does soil degradation affect the ecosystem?

Soil degradation is defined as a change in the soil quality status resulting in a diminished capacity of the ecosystem to provide goods and services for its beneficiaries ( ). It is estimated that 5 billion hectares are degraded worldwide, with 64% of this area in dry regions ( Eswaran et al., 2001 ). There are several causes for land degradation. Erosion by water and wind is the main cause and contributes to about 85% of land degradation ( Oldeman et al., 1992 ). On a global scale the costs to the world of an annual loss of 75 billion tonnes of soil is about US$ 400 billion year −1, or approximately US$ 70 person −1 year −1 ( Pimentel et al., 1995; Lal, 1998 ). Soil compaction is mainly important in the regions of the world where mechanization has been intensively used. On-farm losses through land compaction in the United States have been estimated at US$ 1.2 billion year −1 ( Gill, 1971 ), and it has caused yield reductions of 25%–50% in some regions of Europe ( Eriksson et al., 1974) and North America, and between 40% and 90% in West African countries ( Charreu, 1972; Kayombo and Lal, 1994 ). Soil acidity also threatens crop yields, either by reducing the availability of important nutrients for crop nutrition or through the associated toxicities of Al and Mn. Around 50% of the world’s potentially arable soils are acidic and the use of fertilizers and biological nitrogen fixation are promoting soil acidity. Salinization is also an important aspect of soil degradation. Salt-affected soils occur in more than 100 countries and their worldwide extent is estimated at about 1 billion ha ( FAO and ITPS, 2015 ). Some 10%–20% of dry lands are already degraded due to desertification while a much larger number is under threat ( Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005 ). The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that 16% of the world’s productive land is already degraded ( Parry et al., 2009 ).

Why is soil degradation important?

Globally, soil degradation is an important issue due to its impact on world food security and environmental quality, preventing the correct accomplishment of the soil functions and fulfillment of ecosystem services. Although potentially toxic elements exist naturally in soils with different concentrations as a result of the chemical composition and weathering of the rock parent materials and pedogenic processes, several anthropic activities have leaded to the increase these concentrations (Kabata-Pendias, 2011 ).

What is soil degradation?

Soil degradation is a nebulous term suggest ing that the capacity of a soil to perform selected specified service (s), such as growing crops, has been diminished. The concept seems rather simple, but quantifying degradation has been very challenging and creates uncertainty associated with quantifying land degradation efforts (Bai et al., 2008; Safriel, 2007 ). A global evaluation of soil or land degradation requires sampling and/or evaluation methodology and a land degradation metric that meets needs and interests for multiple different groups. Sampling intensity required for a quantitatively defendable evaluation varies between different landscapes and soil characteristics under investigation. For example, within a given field, hill tops or side slopes may be degraded from soil erosion, while level areas may be unchanged or even improved from eroded topsoil deposition. A single value to describe change across multiple widely differing spatial conditions in small areas has multiple interpretation challenges. The temporal sampling period required to defensively characterize rate of soil change, or intensity of change, may be multiple decades. In spite of multiple challenges, various efforts to address and quantify soil degradation at the global scale exist in the literature. Safriel (2007) identifies five different global land degradation assessments conducted in roughly the last 35 years: Generalized Map of the Status of Desertification in Arid Lands ( Dregne, 1977 ); Desertification of Arid Lands ( Dregne, 1983 ); Global Desertification Dimensions and Costs ( Dregne and Chou, 1992 ); Global Assessment of Human-induced Land Degradation ( Oldeman, 1994; Oldeman et al., 1990, 1991 ); and Synthesis on the Main Areas of Land Cover and Land Use Change ( Lepers, 2003 ). All assessments indicate soil degradation is occurring, but degrees and most impacted locations vary with methodology and interpretation.

How much land was degraded in 1991?

It was estimated in 1991 that there was 1.96 billion ha of land globally with soil degradation caused by human activity. Soil degradation is made up of the following ( Oldeman et al., 1991 ): deforestation, 579 million ha globally (also see Chapter 23) agricultural mismanagement, 552 million ha globally.

What is the threat of biosaline agriculture?

Strategy of Biosaline Agriculture. Soil degradation and soil erosion are a serious threat to sustainable agriculture. The climate change leading to sea level rise and increased evaporation would result in increasing salinization of the coastal soil and aquifers.

Why is land rehabilitation important?

Land rehabilitation is essential to minimize environmental impacts associated to human and animal health and to restore ecosystem services to provide a new and sustainable land use ( Lal, 2015; Santos et al., 2018a ). The inclusion of multidisciplinary issues (environmental, legislative, and economic) in the rehabilitation strategy is essential and specific to each area, region and/or country ( Santos et al., 2018a ).

How does acidity affect crop yields?

Soil acidity also threatens crop yields, either by reducing the availability of important nutrients for crop nutrition or through the associated toxicities of Al and Mn. Around 50% of the world’s potentially arable soils are acidic and the use of fertilizers and biological nitrogen fixation are promoting soil acidity.

How does CO2 affect soil quality?

The CO2 fertilization effect would increase biomass productivity with more litter and crop residues returned to the soil, and with higher root mass and greater root exudation. This could result in a gradual increase in soil fertility.

How much of South Asia is affected by water erosion?

processes is also a problem in developing areas. In South Asia, 25% of agricultural land is estimated to be affected by water erosion, 18% by wind erosion, 13% by fertility decline, 9% by salinization, 6% by lowering of the water table, and 2% by waterlogging (FAO, 1994). It sounds strange to say that fortunately these are overlapping categories.

Why is increased microbial activity important?

The importance of increased soil microbial activity due to increases in temperature also should not be ignored. Greater microbial activity would strengthen elemental recycling mechanisms, increase the SOC pool, and enhance soil structure.

Does cheluviation increase soil erodibility?

These processes increase soil erodibility and decrease waterand nutrient-retention capacity. Two schools of thought exist with regard to the effects of projected climate change on soil quality.

Is soil degradation a threat?

Soil degradation is thu s a major threat to global food security (Oldeman, 1998 ), and this threat may be increased with anticipated climate change. Soil degradation, especially that caused by accelerated erosion, characteristically involves depletion of soil organic matter. Most degraded soils contain an SOC pool that is below their potential set by ecological factors. Lee et al. (1996) observed that when the SOC pool decreased by 4.8 MT/ha in the U.S. Corn Belt, about 50% of this loss was due to accelerated soil erosion. Further, increased temperature and precipitation accelerate losses of SOC. These can exacerbate nutrient depletion in low-input agricultural systems that are already vulnerable to severe nutrient depletion, as is the case in Ghana (Rhodes, 1995) and elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa (Stoorvogel and Smal-ing, 1990). Sustainability of agriculture in the Sahel is already problematic (Reardon, 1995). It becomes even more difficult to attain with increased risks of soil degradation.


Soil Erosion and Acidification Are The Problems of Today

Soil erosion is a major global threat land degradation for land, watercourses and oceans. Improving knowledge of probabilities future erosion rates land, accelerated by human activity, is important as for policy makers dealing with land use decisions, as well as for system creatorswho want to reduce uncertainty in global …

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What Methods Are Applied in Sustainable Agricultural Systems?

  • 50 years ago, 75 percent of Vojvodina’s fields there was above five percent humus. Today there are such fields only one percent. The impoverishment of the land with humus started in the 70s, when it started mass use of mineral fertilizers who signed up for organic fertilizer. Some of the methods used in sustainable agricultural systems, which aim, among other things, to improve th…

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Raising Public Awareness and Developing Education Are Some of The Solutions

  • United Nations they aim to respond to this problem globally by helping the mostpolicy makers in countries who cannot answer this problem on their own, and will focus their resources on risk identification and mitigation of soil degradation by erosion. System solutions are possible in the form of propagation and raising public awareness, developing education and science with the es…

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