Soil erosion no doubt has become a major threat to agricultural development. According to research by the Department of Agriculture United States, more than one billion tons of topsoil are lost every year as a result of erosion.
Soil erosion does not only wash away the upper layer of the soil but also causes pollution in waterways, landslides, and increased flooding risk.
Although soil erosion has been a natural occurrence facilitated by wind or water; nevertheless, human activities ranging from poaching, deforestation, cultivation overgrazing, etc., over the past decades have immensely contributed to the increase of soil erosion in the world.
As a result of this, soil erosion has posed a major threat to the productivity and sustainability of agricultural produce with high effects on food security but, there are solutions to soil erosion.
In this article, you would find the lasting solutions to this environmental crisis-soil erosion as you read on.
What is Soil Erosion?
Soil erosion in its simplest definition is the movement of the topsoil or highly fertile layer of the soil consisting of the most nutrients from one land to another.
This happens as the impact of wind or water, and human activities on farmland (such as tilling, and bush clearing) detaches soil particles (especially the top layer) causing the soil to deteriorate.
When farming activities take place, the upper layer of the soil is rendered vulnerable, making it possible to be washed away by rain or blown away by the wind.
The detachment and movement of the upper layer of the soil which results in soil erosion is a result of natural movements such as wind, water, or the impact of man.
The process of soil erosion takes three steps which are:
- Detachment: This is when the topsoil is detached or removed from the rest of the ground.
- Movement: This is actually when the upper layer of the soil is relocated to another area
- Deposition: It is where the topsoil is found after erosion.
There are 5 existing and domineering types of soil Erosion in our world today; these are:
- Water erosion (sheet erosion)
- Wind erosion
- Rill erosion
- Gully erosion and
- Ephemeral erosion
1. Water Erosion
This kind is almost invisible, its light-colored soils are a sign that over the years erosion has taken its toll.
2. Wind Erosion
This kind is highly visible and disastrous but not as severe as water erosion.
3. Rill Erosion
This type of erosion usually occurs during heavy rains, when small rolls form over an entire hillside, making farming quite difficult.
4. Gully Erosion
This type makes gullies; some of them huge and impossible to cross with farm machinery.
5. Ephemeral Erosion
This occurs in natural depressions. It differs from gully erosion in that the area can be crossed by farm equipment
Soil erosion has become an unfortunate phenomenon worldwide. This problem has left so many lands less cultivated and has rendered agricultural produce unproductive. This is an increase, especially in places with higher tendencies of erosion such as watersheds in Indonesia, the Philippines, and more.
Even though the devastating effect of soil erosion as it concerns man can not be over-emphasized, many are still ignorant of it. This has led to its incessant occurrences over the years till now.
Why Soil Erosion Should be Prevented?
The prevention of soil erosion is no doubt a necessity considering its bizarre effects if left uncontrolled. This natural phenomenon can lead to an increased rate of flooding, Landslides as there may be no available soil to prevent this. If this continues, there will soon be a food shortage as there will be less fertile soil available to produce a good quantity of food crops for the teeming population.
There are no doubts that the robust consequences of soil erosion abound if there are no stipulated measures to prevent it. Agricultural farmlands and farmers stand a huge chance of being affected as the topsoil which is the closest to any surface of the land is highly affected as erosion takes place.
During erosion, the upper layer of the soil which provides nutrients for the crops is endangered either by water or soil erosion. As a result of this, the fertility of the soil is affected, making it impossible for the land to yield enough crops.
Also, during the erosion process, heavy layers of sediments that prevent streams and rivers from flowing smoothly are released, thereby resulting in flooding. The effect of this global crisis- soil erosion tends to be a heavy determinant of the climatic condition of our world.
Whenever there is an occurrence of erosion, the organic resources of our land(especially farmlands) are reduced drastically making it impossible for the soil to absorb climate-warming CO2. This puts the soil at a high chance of acidity which will eventually affect the ability of plants and crops to grow.
Soil erosion has become not just a global pandemonium but has also caused huge losses to the economy of so many countries of the world. This assertion becomes more factual going by a recent study which affirmed that countries of the world globally, have lost $ 8 billion cumulatively, as a result of reduced soil fertility and poor crop yields.
10 Lasting Solutions to Soil Erosion
With what has been said so far about soil erosion, it becomes very pertinent to embrace lasting measures to proffer solution to it.
Here, are 10 suitable solutions to soil erosion you can count on:
1. Crop Rotation:
This is an effective method of controlling soil erosion. This simply entails abandoning a piece of land in one area to another. The purpose of this is to keep the land healthy, fertile, and undisturbed; to allow organic matters to build up, and to make future plantings more fertile.
2. Water Control
Those areas where soil erosion is fully associated with water can be controlled and effectively managed. This could be achieved by introducing run-off pipes that can help direct these water sources away from vulnerable areas, thus, helping to stave off excess erosion.
3. Easy and Careful Tilling
This measure becomes important bearing in mind what happens to the soil when tilling is done. During tilling activity, most of the soil structure with the best organic nutrients are been broken down, undermining the chances of these nutrients being preserved. Careful tilling with fewer passes will preserve more of the topsoil.
4. Planting Vegetation
This involves the planting of crops with deep roots that can hold the soil in place. This method is specifically relevant in areas that are more vulnerable to erosions such as hillsides, streams, and long rivers. These vegetative plants hinder the flow of water due to their thick stems that are densely concentrated.
Although cultivating on sloppy areas can be challenging and easily lead to soil erosion, nevertheless, contour farming techniques, where farmers plant across the slope can help control erosion if properly utilized.
This farming technique helps to conserve water and minimize soil loss if erosion eventually erupts. These objectives can be achieved by applying crop rows, and wheel tracks across furrows and slopes.
5. Avoidance of Overgrazing
If too many animals are grazed in the same place over a long period, it can lead to a poor stand of vegetation. This can be effectively minimized by applying proper pasture management practices and grazing.
Moving livestock through several paddocks, rotational grazing, etc., are good instances of these. This serves as a good technique in controlling soil erosion because it can reduce erosion, allow pasture plant recovery, and improve age quality.
This technique comes into play as a result of human activities on lands such as poaching, and deforestation that endanger our soil. This method ensures the restoration of weakened ecosystems, and the protection of the existing ones to ensure sufficient soil erosion control.
According to a study, properly planted and maintained tree reduces erosion by 75 percent. Additionally, reforestation helps to minimize shallow landslides, eroding gullies, earth flows, etc., if properly utilized
This method has been in use for more than 5000 years to cultivate crops in hilly areas. This method ensures slopes are converted into flatlands on which crop cultivation can be carried out.
Walls are constructed along the terrace to hold the Soil in place and also help to prevent run-off of water, thus, preventing water retention and infiltration into the soil. Terracing also prevents, transferring of sediments down the terrace after seasonal rain and also helps in better drainage of water in the land.
With the use of mulching materials, washing and the erosion of the soil is effectively curtailed without the soil losing its moisture in the process. This is because mulching ensures the stability of the soil and ensures the protection of the soil and crops from the impact of fluctuating temperature conditions. Commonly used mulching materials are, wood chips or barks, organic mulching, etc.
9. Contour Farming
Although cultivating on slopes can be challenging and easily lead to soil erosion, however, if the contour farming technique is properly utilized, it would help control soil erosion. This farming technique serves to conserve rainwater and minimize soil loss from surface erosion. This objective can be achieved through crop rows, and wheel tracks across furrows and slopes.
10. Use of Plastic Sheeting.
This method involves the placement of geotextiles, erosion control blankets, plastic covers, and mats to keep soil from erosion, especially by wind or water. This helps newly planted crops to roots in slopes with flowing water.
Soil erosion is indeed an environmental issue that continuously poses a challenge to agricultural farmlands, crops, species, and also humans. Having been made aware of its causes such as rainwater run-off, farming activities, grazing, etc., it becomes imperative that we avoid thoroughly activities that would endanger our farmlands and make them susceptible to Soil erosion. Also, all hands must be on deck to ensure that the effect of this natural phenomenon is curtailed by continuously practicing stipulated measures that can help control it.
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