Soil Erosion: It is defined as the removal of topsoil cover that has organic matter or nutrients essential for plant growth. Soil erosion leads to soil degradation. Water and Wind are two key sources of soil erosion.
Soil Degradation: It is defined as less fertile land that has been subjected to poor handling, or other human activities. The quality of soil is declined due to soil erosion.
Check out: Soil and Water Sampling Techniques
CAUSES OF SOIL EROSION AND DEGRADATION
The causes of soil erosion and degradation are natural as well as anthropogenic.
NATURAL CAUSES OF SOIL EROSION AND DEGRADATION
Natural Disasters: Extreme weather events such as floods, tsunami, strong winds, and heavy rainfalls are natural causes of soil erosion. It is often defined as a natural process.
ANTHROPOGENIC CAUSES OF SOIL EROSION AND DEGRADATION
1. Agricultural Activities: Unsustainable agriculture practices are one of the causes of soil erosion and degradation. The examples are mono-cropping and tillage.
2. Over-Grazing: Overgrazing reduces the quality of the soil. The soil becomes more prone to degradation by strong winds and rainfalls.
3. Deforestation: Cutting of trees for fodder, fuel, or construction makes soil exposed to outer environmental factors.
4. Mining Activities: Overexploitation of natural reserves and underground mining damage soil quality. The land-use changes increase the process of soil erosion.
5. Urbanization: Increasing human population needs land areas for settlement. The construction of roads and housing scheme degrade soil quality.
6. Industrialization: Industrialization has badly affected soil quality all over the world. It often accelerates the rate of soil degradation.
Also read: Sustainable Forest Management – Methods and Importance
EFFECTS OF SOIL EROSION AND DEGRADATION
The effects of soil erosion and degradation are severe and mentioned below.
1. Land Pollution/Degradation: Soil erosion causes soil pollution and due to this problem land area is no longer suitable for farming.
2. Water Pollution: It results in water pollution because water flow from eroded soil carries sedimentation in water bodies.
3. Less Crop Production: The degraded soil is unable to produce crops and fundamentally the net yield of crops decreases.
4. Food Insecurity: Less crop production due to soil degradation creates food shortage in the region.
5. Biodiversity Loss: Soil erosion and degradation affect the biodiversity on land and inhabiting water bodies such for fishes etc. For more info: Biodiversity Loss – Causes, Effects, and Solutions
6. Economic Losses: Environmental issues such as soil erosion and degradation cause economic losses especially to agrarian countries.
You might also like to read: Biodynamic Farming Benefits and Importance for Environment
SOLUTIONS TO SOIL EROSION AND DEGRADATION
The solutions to soil erosion and degradation are listed below.
1. Vegetation or Planting Trees: Increasing vegetation or planting trees in degraded land areas will improve the soil quality. Trees protect soil from natural disasters such as floods.
2. Soil Conservation: Soil can be protected from erosion by soil conservation. This solution includes cover crops, mulching, crop rotation, terracing, etc. These methods prevent soil erosion and degradation.
3. Strip Farming: It is one of the agricultural practices by which soil can be protected against erosion and degradation.
4. Sustainable Agricultural Practices: By adopting sustainable agriculture practices, the soil would be less likely vulnerable to erosion.
5. Land Management: Sustainable land management techniques such as protecting forest cover could be another possible solution.
Also read: Hydroponics – The Future of Agriculture?
The health of the soil is extremely important for the growth of plants and crops. The decrease in soil quality threatens crop yields and eventually results in less food production. The soil biota also plays its role in maintaining soil quality but soil pollution affects the activity of soil microorganisms. Sustainable farming could be adopted as a key solution.
Also check out: What is Agroecology? Importance and Impact on Environment
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