Reading: Causes of Soil Erosion
- Farming. Agriculture is probably the most significant activity that accelerates soil erosion because of the amount of land that is farmed and how much farming practices disturb the ground (Figure …
- Grazing. …
- Logging and Mining. …
- Construction. …
- Recreational Activities. …
Why is erosion bad for farming?
· How does agriculture cause soil erosion? Farming. Agriculture is probably the most significant activity that accelerates soil erosion because of the amount of land that is farmed and how much farming practices disturb the ground (Figure 1). Farmers remove native vegetation and then plow the land to plant new seeds. Fine soil is blown away by wind.
How does farming cause erosion?
· Agricultural processes themselves can also cause soil erosion. Grazing animals can induce this effect by eating the plants covering the topsoil, exposing it to the elements, and churning up the ground pacing back and forth over its surface. But what is the impact of increasing levels of soil erosion on agricultural practices?
What are the best plants to prevent erosion?
Soil erosion: An agricultural production challenge. Soil erosion is a gradual process that occurs when the impact of water or wind detaches and removes soil particles, causing the soil to deteriorate. Soil deterioration and low water quality due to erosion and surface runoff have become severe problems worldwide.
How does agriculture affect soil erosion?
· Increased demand for agriculture commodities generates incentives to convert forests and grasslands to farm fields and pastures. The transition to agriculture from natural …
How does erosion affect agriculture?
Some seriously eroded soils are not usable for crop production at all. Erosion can also reduce the soil’s ability to absorb water, which can result in flooding and create large areas of standing water. If areas remain flooded during the planting season, it can delay or impede the planting of new crops.
What causes increased erosion?
Running water is the leading cause of soil erosion, because water is abundant and has a lot of power. Wind is also a leading cause of soil erosion because wind can pick up soil and blow it far away. Activities that remove vegetation, disturb the ground, or allow the ground to dry are activities that increase erosion.
What are the causes of soil erosion in agricultural production?
Soil erosion is a gradual process that occurs when the impact of water or wind detaches and removes soil particles, causing the soil to deteriorate. Soil deterioration and low water quality due to erosion and surface runoff have become severe problems worldwide.
How does agriculture affect the 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.
How does farming accelerate soil erosion?
Agriculture. 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 can agriculture prevent soil erosion?
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.More items…
What are 4 main causes of erosion?
Four Causes of Soil ErosionWater. Water is the most common cause of soil erosion. … Wind. Wind can also make soil erode by displacing it. … Ice. We don’t get much ice here in Lawrenceville, GA, but for those that do, the concept is the same as water. … Gravity. Gravity is a primary culprit behind the three other causes.
How does agriculture lead to salinization of soil?
The most influential human-induced factors are land use, farming systems, land management and land degradation. Inappropriate irrigation practices (such as the use of salt-rich irrigation water) and insufficient drainage both cause salinisation.
What are the factors affecting soil erosion?
Vegetation, rainfall, soil, and topography are the primary factors influencing soil erosion, although other factors may be involved. The kinetic impact of rain hitting the soil causes water erosion [5, 6], and water erosion will occur when rainfall exceeds a certain value in a single rainfall event.
How does agriculture cause soil pollution?
Agriculture and livestock activities pollute soil through excessive application of pesticides and fertilizers, the use of untreated wastewater for irrigation, and the use of manure and sewage sludge with high antibiotic, antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and heavy metal content.
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.
How land is being degraded by agriculture?
Water erosion is the most common form of degradation in the area, affecting 25 percent of agricultural land. Wind erosion affects 40 percent of the agricultural land in the dry zone. There is also a widespread decline in soil fertility and extensive waterlogging and salinization in irrigated areas.
How does soil erosion affect agriculture?
Soil erosion can negatively impact agriculture by reducing crop yields and quality. In an era where the population continues to grow rapidly, the agricultural sector is being put under increasing pressure to respond and produce enough food for our growing society.
How much of the world’s agricultural land is affected by erosion?
It is estimated that as much as 80% of the world ’ s agricultural land is suffering from what is considered moderate or severe levels of erosion. Also, almost all human food source comes from the land, with an estimated 99.7% of food calories coming from this source and just 0.3% coming from aquatic ecosystems.
Why is organic farming important?
Switching to organic farming methods is being encouraged in the agricultural sector not only to reduce soil erosion and product crop yields but also for the other numerous environmental and health benefits it brings.
Why do farmers switch to row crops?
Also, there has been a recent trend in the US for farmers to switch to certain row crops, like corn, because its value has doubled, while its susceptibility to soil erosion is putting entire farms at risk of financial failure.
How many hectares of land are abandoned each year?
Studies have shown that around 10 million hectares of land are abandoned each year due to this lack of crop productivity caused by soil erosion. This effects some regions more than others, with Africa, Asia, and South America averaging at a loss of 30 to 40 hectares annually.
Can grazing animals cause soil erosion?
Agricultural processes themselves can also cause soil erosion. Grazing animals can induce this effect by eating the plants covering the topsoil, exposing it to the elements, and churning up the ground pacing back and forth over its surface.
What are the factors that contribute to soil erosion?
Another major factor contributing to soil erosion is climate change .
How does erosion affect soil productivity?
Many studies indicate that soil erosion results in large decreases in soil productivity. In a study conducted at Iowa State University on 40 soil associations, Craft and coworkers ( Proceedings of the National Symposium on Erosion and Soil Productivity, 1984) reported that the impact of soil erosion on soil productivity was largely determined by subsoil properties because they effect root growth, soil water availability, and plow layer fertility. Thus, the loss of the topsoil can have considerable impact on yield, where nutrient availability, root growth environment, and soil water availability are essential for plant development. In soils with unfavorable subsoil conditions, erosion can have a large effect on productivity, if the plow layer soil fertility is not restored.
How does soil conservation affect erosion?
The amount and rate of surface runoff can affect erosion and sediment transport. Thus, soil conservation practices are important in reducing soil erosion. Improving the soil infiltration rate, resulting in less surface runoff, can lead to reduction of soil erosion. Agronomic, cultural, or structural practices are available for controlling soil …
Where does ephemeral erosion occur?
Ephemeral erosion occurs in natural depressions. It differs from gully erosion in that the area can be crossed by farm equipment.
What is the difference between rill erosion and ephemeral erosion?
Rill erosion occurs during heavy rains, when small rills form over an entire hillside, making farming difficult. Gully erosion makes gullies, some of them huge, impossible to cross with farm machinery. Ephemeral erosion occurs in natural depressions.
Is sheet erosion invisible?
Sheet erosion (water) is almost invisible. Lighter colored soils are a sign that over the years erosion has taken its toll.
What are the practices used to control soil erosion?
Agronomic, cultural, or structural practices are available for controlling soil erosion. Structural practices involve physical changes in the shape and topography of the land. All these practices are not mutually exclusive. Some situations may require both management and structural changes, where the topography is highly complex.
Is soil erosion a physical process?
Therefore, soil erosion is a physical process requiring energy, and its control requires certain measures to dissipate this energy. The hydrologic processes of rainfall and runoff play an essential role in water erosion. The amount and rate of surface runoff can affect erosion and sediment transport. Thus, soil conservation practices are important …
Why is wind a leading cause of soil erosion?
Wind is also a leading cause of soil erosion because wind can pick up soil and blow it far away. Activities that remove vegetation, disturb the ground, or allow the ground to dry are activities that increase erosion. What are some human activities that increase the likelihood that soil will be eroded?
Which activity accelerates soil erosion?
Agriculture is probably the most significant activity that accelerates soil erosion because of the amount of land that is farmed and how much farming practices disturb the ground (Figure 1). Farmers remove native vegetation and then plow the land to plant new seeds.
Why is the land fallow in winter?
Because most crops grow only in spring and summer, the land lies fallow during the winter. Of course, winter is also the stormy season in many locations, so wind and rain are available to wash soil away. Tractor tires make deep grooves, which are natural pathways for water. Fine soil is blown away by wind.
How fast does soil erosion occur?
In some locations soil erosion may occur about 10 times faster than its natural rate.
How does urbanization affect water?
Urban areas and parking lots result in less water entering the ground. Water runs off the parking lot onto nearby lands and speeds up erosion in those areas.
What is the effect of building buildings and roads on the soil?
Constructing buildings and roads churns up the ground and exposes soil to erosion. In some locations, native landscapes, such as forest and grassland, are cleared, exposing the surface to erosion (in some locations the land that will be built on is farmland).
How does surface mining affect the soil?
Surface mining disturbs the land (Figure 5) and leaves the soil vulnerable to erosion.
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.
How does land degradation affect the world?
Land degradation is happening at an alarming pace and is affecting regions inhabited by over one-third of the global population. This phenomenon contributes to a dramatic decline in the productivity of croplands and rangelands worldwide, thereby, threatening food security and environmental quality.
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 do pesticides affect the environment?
Pesticides have several impacts on the environment. In terms of soil and soil degradation, they are responsible for the phenomenon of erosion, which is the loss of the first soil layer. This is due to the lack of plants and trees that can keep the soil strong, but also the lack of insects which are killed by pesticides.
What happens when animals are spread over a large area?
But even if animals are spread over a big territory, the soil can suffer from degradation.
What is the film “Soil Resources” about?
This animated film tells the reality of soil resources around the world, covering the issues of degradation, urbanization, land grabbing and overexploitation; the film offers options to make the way we manage our soils more sustainable.
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.
What are the causes of crop extinction?
Deforestation is a leading cause of climate change, which is a leading cause of crop extinction. If our forests continue to vanish and release greenhouse gases into the air, crops like coffee, tea, avocados, chocolate, and bananas could be largely lost in our lifetime.
How does deforestation affect soil?
Deforestation removes vegetation, which anchors soil in place. Without enough trees, soil is vulnerable to erosion and nutrient loss. The absence of roots causes topsoil to easily wash or blow away, leading to decreased soil quality and increased landslides. It’s estimated that a third of the world’s arable land has been lost to soil erosion and degradation since 1960. Once land is cleared and roots are ripped away, cash crops like coffee and soy are planted which can make erosion worse, since their roots cannot anchor into the soil like those of a tree.
Which countries are affected by deforestation?
Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana make up the Amazon basin which is where the Amazon rainforest grows. Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru have been hit the hardest by deforestation due to excessive logging, agriculture, and cattle production.
What are the animals that are threatened by deforestation?
Human-induced destruction is a major contributor to habitat loss for plant and animal species, especially in our rainforests. Jaguars, sloths, bonobos, and orangutans are just some of the better-known animals threatened by deforestation.
How does the construction of roads affect the Amazon rainforest?
The construction of roads throughout forests, especially the Amazon rainforest, increases the probability of animal deaths caused by loss of habitat and motor accidents. New roads make the process of illegal logging and poaching more convenient as well. Infrastructural expansion not only displaces animals and increases the risk of deforestation, it also encroaches on local residents’ homes and livelihoods.
What is the biggest threat to the rainforest?
Going by recent discussions in the media, it is sometimes thought that the largest threat to our rainforests is palm oil (used for food and biofuel), or wood (for paper and construction). But beef production surpasses them both as the largest contributor to deforestation.
What are the effects of deforestation on the rainforest?
This extreme clearing of land results in habitat loss, amplification of greenhouse gases, disruption of water cycles, increased soil erosion, and excessive flooding. A significant amount of total deforestation occurs in rainforests, which are home to over 50 percent of plant and animal species on the planet.
How does human activity increase erosion?
How Rates of Erosion Are Increased by Human Activities. Erosion is a natural process where wind and water transport soil and sand, slowly redefining the landscape over hundreds or thousands of years. However, some human activities can increase natural erosion rates by 10 to 15 times, leading to massive changes in an ecosystem over …
What are the causes of erosion?
Mining and Erosion. Mining operations are major contributors to erosion, especially on a local level. Many mining techniques involve shifting large amounts of earth, such as strip mining or mountaintop removal.
How does urban development affect erosion?
Development and Expansion. Urban and suburban development can also exacerbate erosion, especially if the developers ignore the natural state of the land. Construction of a building often begins by clearing the area of any plants or other natural defenses against soil erosion.
How does deforestation affect erosion?
One of the most important barriers to erosion is plant life, as long-lived trees and other species put down roots that literally help hold the soil together. Logging kills these plants, and even if the operation plants new trees to replace the old ones, the younger plants require years to put down the kind of root system that once protected the soil. Timber companies utilize a variety of different techniques, such as partial clearing and replanting, to prevent soil degradation and erosion in their work zones.
Why do we plant cover crops in the fall?
Planting cover crops in the fall can help maintain the soil through the winter months, reducing the amount of erosion. In addition, rotating the crops planted can help return nutrients to the soil to prevent its degradation.
How does farming affect soil?
Farming can degrade the topsoil and lead to an increase in erosion. To plant a field, a farmer must first till the soil, breaking it up and loosening it so the new plants can take root. Once the plants are harvested, the loose soil remains and wind or rain can easily wash it away.
How does human activity affect the environment?
However, some human activities can increase natural erosion rates by 10 to 15 times, leading to massive changes in an ecosystem over a relatively short period. Monitoring these changes is important, because if left unchecked, they can lead to significant environmental damage and even affect our food supply.
How does land use affect climate?
Land use changes can also significantly contribute to climate change. Large scale changes such as deforestation, soil erosion or machine-intensive farming methods may all contribute to increased carbon concentrations in the atmosphere.
How much carbon has been lost from the biosphere in the last 300 years?
A more frequently quoted figure is that 200 to 250 Gt of carbon have been lost from the biosphere as a whole in the last 300 years. Whatever the correct figure, these reductions of ‘living carbon potential’ have resulted from. Land use changes can also significantly contribute to climate change.
How does soil erosion affect crop productivity?
Soil erosion: effect on soil productivity. Soil erosion is a major environmental issue because it can lead to water pollution. But did you know that soil erosion also can seriously impair crop productivity? Most agriculture activities, especially on sloping landscapes, increase the potential for soil erosion.
What is the effect of topsoil erosion on crop yield?
Losing topsoil to erosion contributes to a loss of inherent soil fertility levels of nitrogen, P, K, and thus to a decline in potential crop yield. The addition of manure and fertilizer can supply needed crop nutrients and help offset some loss of inherent fertility caused by soil erosion.
Why does clay accumulate below the soil?
Clay particles tend to accumulate below the topsoil due to the leaching. When topsoil has eroded, the loss of organic matter can alter the soil’s physical properties, especially soil density. Higher clay content at the surface can reduce infiltration of topsoil reducing soil recharge, thus reducing water availability to the plants.
How does soil affect the growth of plants?
Thin topsoils mean lower organic matter content, low water holding capacity, and less rooting depth. Textural distribution within the soil profile also determines how much plant-available water is present. Soils with coarse textures tend to drain water more quickly, whereas soils with fine textures hold water too tightly for roots. Poor drainage occurs in medium-textured as well as fine-textured soils on concave landforms, and, in the absence of an artificial drainage system, root development is affected because of the lack of oxygen.
What does it mean to prevent soil erosion?
The loss of yield is devastating. In summary, preventing soil erosion means preserving inherent soil fertility and minimizing fertilizer and management inputs. Understanding the impact of erosion on soil productivity means knowing the characteristics of your soils.
Is fertile soil a productive soil?
Soil fertility is vital to a productive soil, but a fertile soil is not necessarily a productive soil. The majority of organic matter, approximately 50 percent of plant-available phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) are concentrated in the topsoil (A-horizon). Losing topsoil to erosion contributes to a loss of inherent soil fertility levels of nitrogen, P, K, and thus to a decline in potential crop yield. The addition of manure and fertilizer can supply needed crop nutrients and help offset some loss of inherent fertility caused by soil erosion. But the productivity of eroded soils can be restored by added inputs only if favorable subsoil material is present. Productivity lost by excessive soil erosion cannot be restored with additional inputs when soils have subsoil material with unfavorable physical and chemical properties for plant root growth. In soils that have fragile subsoils, limited rooting depth, coarse sand and gravel, or high densities, there is little or no ability to recover yield losses with increased inputs. The loss of yield is devastating.
Is soil erosion bad for productivity?
Even limited soil erosion can be harmful to productivity in other soils. Soils with little rooting depth potential, slowly permeable subsoils, and fragile soils structure, or those that are shallow to bedrock or coarse sands and gravels, definitely are adversely affected by erosion. No amount of management can compensate for the lack …
What are the causes of soil erosion?
Construction of roads and buildings, logging, mining, and agricultural production have resulted in large amounts of soil erosion in the U.S. and around the world. When soil erodes, it is usually the topsoil that erodes first, which means that the potential of the eroded area to produce food or forage is greatly reduced.
How can forage producers reduce erosion?
In addition to using conservation tillage to establish forage stands, there are other steps forage producers can take to minimize soil erosion. Planting windbreaks will help reduce wind erosion. Some studies have suggested that the reduction in wind speed may be effective as far as 15 times the height of the trees.
What is contour cropping?
This technique known as contour tillage, may sometimes be combined with strip cropping and is known as contour strip-cropping. Forage production typically involves haying and/or grazing animals. Hay cuttings should be timed to maintain a healthy productive forage stand.
How to reduce water erosion?
Reducing the velocity of water moving across the soil surface will reduce water erosion. This may be accomplished by using strip cropping. In strip cropping a row crop such as corn is planted in strips that alternate with strips of a forage crop such as alfalfa or grass hay. Another way to reduce the velocity of water moving across the soil is to plant and cultivate crops parallel to the natural slope or contours of the land. This technique known as contour tillage, may sometimes be combined with strip cropping and is known as contour strip-cropping.
When is the soil most susceptible to erosion?
The time that the soil is typically bare, and thus most susceptible to erosion, is after plowing to prepare a seedbed. To minimize the problems arising from plowing some crop producers have turned to so called conservation tillage.
How to minimize soil erosion?
The time that the soil is typically bare, and thus most susceptible to erosion, is after plowing to prepare a seedbed. To minimize the problems arising from plowing some crop producers have turned to so called conservation tillage. Conservation tillage is any tillage system that conserves the amount of vegetation or crop resides left on the surface. Two major categories of conservation tillage are no-till or minimum tillage production systems. In no-till planting the vegetation on the surface is first killed with a broad spectrum herbicide. Then a special planter is used (usually known as a no-till planter or drill) to plant seed directly through the dead vegetation. A modification of the no-till approach is known as minimum tillage. As the term implies some tillage is used but not as much as with traditional plowing with a moldboard plow. In minimum tillage specialized tillage and planting equipment are used so that only part of the soil surface is disturbed. One specific example of minimum tillage would be ridge till, in which 4-6 inch (10-15 centimeters) ridges are formed in the soil. The crop is seeded in the ridges, leaving much of the surrounding soil relatively undisturbed.
What is the process of removing vegetation from the soil surface?
Agricultural production, including forage production , involves removing vegetation from the soil surface. Plowing, cultivating, mowing, and grazing are examples of how vegetation is removed in forage production . The extent of soil erosion depends to a great degree on how the removal of vegetation is handled. Leaving the soil surface with little or no vegetation provides a prime opportunity for soil to be eroded by wind or water moving across the soil surface.
Grazing animals (Figure 2) wander over large areas of pasture or natural grasslands eating grasses and shrubs. Grazers expose soil by removing the plant cover for an area. They also churn up the ground with their hooves. If too many animals graze the same land area, the animals’ hooves pull plants out by their roots. A land is overgrazed if too many animals are living there.
Logging and Mining
Logging removes trees that protect the ground from soil erosion. The tree roots hold the soil together and the tree canopy protects the soil from hard falling rain. Logging results in the loss of leaf litter, or dead leaves, bark, and branches on the forest floor. Leaf litter plays an important role in protecting forest soils from erosion (Figure 3). Much of the world’s original forests have been …
Constructing buildings and roads churns up the ground and exposes soil to erosion. In some locations, native landscapes, such as forest and grassland, are cleared, exposing the surface to erosion (in some locations the land that will be built on is farmland). Near construction sites, dirt, picked up by the wind, is often in the air. Completed construction can also contribute to erosion …
Recreational activities may accelerate soil erosion. Off-road vehicles disturb the landscape and the area eventually develops bare spots where no plants can grow. In some delicate habitats, even hikers’ boots can disturb the ground, so it’s important to stay on the trail (Figure 7). Soil erosion is as natural as any other type of erosion, but human activities have greatly accelerated soil erosio…
- Although soil erosion is a natural process, human activities have greatly accelerated it.
- The agents of soil erosion are the same as of other types of erosion: water, ice, wind, and gravity.
- Soil erosion is more likely where the ground has been disturbed by agriculture, grazing animals, logging, mining, construction, and recreational activities.