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Soil Erosion

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Soil erosion refers to a natural process in which the topsoil of a given field is carried away by physical means, which can be wind, water, or human intervention. In the process of soil erosion, the particles of soil are loosened or sometimes washed away to far lands. This process of soil erosion has increased due to certain human activities which include agriculture and deforestation. Soil erosion is a continuous process that has been occurring either slowly or at an alarming rate, which has resulted in loss of topsoil, soil collapse, ecological damage, etc.


Soil Erosion

What is Soil Erosion?

Soil Erosion is the process, in which the soil particles are loosened or washed away in the valleys, oceans, rivers, streams or far away lands. Soil erosion is a non-stoppable process that occurs either slowly or at a higher rate. 

Soil erosion can be prevented by various methods like controlling afforestation, change in farming practices, etc. Soil erosion removes the surface soil. Surface soil has the highest biological activity and the greatest amount of organic matter as illustrated below:

Soil Erosion

Definition of Soil Erosion

“Soil Erosion is the displacement of the upper layer of soil, one form of soil degradation. The natural process is caused by the dynamic activity of erosive agents, that is, water, ice, snow, air, plants, animals and humans.”

Causes of Soil Erosion

There are many reasons why soil erosion occurs:-

  • Flooding due to heavy rainfall: The high intensity of rainfall causes soil erosion. There are four types of soil erosion due to rainfall: Sheet erosion. Splash erosion, Rill erosion, and Gully erosion. Eroded soil washed away into the nearby streams and rivers due to the high amount of rainfall. The higher the amount of Rainfall higher will be the soil erosion.
  • Agricultural activities: Another main cause of soil erosion is farming practices, they disturb the ground. The trees are cut down and the lands are plowed for the germination of new seeds. Most crops are grown during springs and most of the soil is eroded during winters because the land lies fallow during winters.
  • Grazing: The grazing animals remove the plants or vegetation from the land through their feeding habit at a place. The only left is topsoil. They also pull out plants by their roots, due to which soil loosens up and more erosion will occur.
  • Mining: In the Mining process, a large number of trees were cut down to make the field fit for logging. due to which soil get lose and erosion occur in a frequent manner.
  • Constructional activities: The construction also leads to soil erosion. for construction purposes, the forests and grasslands are cleared which exposes the soil making it more favorable to erosion.

Effects of Soil Erosion

The major effects of soil erosion include:

  • Loss of fertile land: Due to Soil erosion, the top layer is the fertile layer (which contains all the organic compounds required for the growth of plants) which means there is fertility loss of soil,  The soil which has no fertility or the top layer leads to non-productive fields.
  • Air Pollution: The soil which is dust particles in the air cause polluted air. Toxic substances such as pesticides and petroleum mixed with soil particles can be extremely hazardous when inhaled. that also lead to pulmonary diseases in humans.
  • Waterways pollution: The agricultural soil contains insecticides, pesticides, fertilizers, and several different chemicals. where the soil flows pollute the water bodies.
  • Desertification: Soil erosion is a major factor in desertification. It transforms the living environment regions into deserts. This also leads to loss of biodiversity, degradation of the soil, and lead various changes in the ecosystem.

Prevention of Soil Erosion 

This is a serious environmental issue. Steps should be taken to reduce this problem. There are various listed methods for prevention:

  • Planting trees on barren lands, through these roots can hold soil tightly to limit erosion of soil.
  • Erosion on the slopes can be reduced with Mulch matting.
  • Put a series of Fibre cloth logs to prevent any water or soil from washing away.
  • At the base of the slope, the building wall can stop the eroded layer to flow down.
  • The proper drainage systems in every household can lead to water flowing down into proper water collecting systems.
  • Terrace cultivation leads to the reduction of soil erosion, this practice is done in the Western and Central Himalayas.
  • Strip Cropping – When a large field is divided into strips and strips of grass are left to grow between the crops. Then, this breaks up the force of the wind. This method is known as Strip Cropping.

Types of Soil Erosion

The thing that we can do to improve the stability or quality of our crops is to reduce soil erosion. Different forms of soil erosion are as:

  1. Rain Drop or Splash Erosion: This kind of erosion is caused due to falling rainfall or raindrops over a soil surface which may cause the structure of the soil to be known as raindrop or splash erosion.
  2. Rill Erosion: This kind of erosion, basically, is water erosion in which the erosion takes place when the water forms small channels or streams in the soil as it flows off-site. It is the most common form of erosion, It observes during heavy rain.
  3. Sheet Erosion: When a high amount of wind travels over the lands or fields that lead to the removal of soil in thin layers. Land areas with loose topsoil have greater chances to come under the category of sheet erosion.
  4. Gully Erosion: Gully erosion occurs due to the removal of soil along drainage lines by surface water runoff. Gully Erosion in India is most commonly found in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, and Rajasthan.

Soil Conservation

There are different methods through which soil can be conserved:

  1. Afforestation: It is one of the best methods to conserve soil, we can increase the area under forests. Cutting of trees should be stopped and new plants should be planted through which soil erosion and quality of soil can improve.
  2. Crop Rotation: The rotation of crops means at different seasons growing different crops on the same field of land. In India, peasants grow a particular crop in the same field year after year. This mal technique takes away a certain amount of element from the soil, making it infertile and lead unsuitable for crop production.
  3. Checking Overgrazing: Grazing is important for cattle and somewhat it also benefits the crop, overgrazing of grasslands by animals, especially by cattle, herds, sheep, and goats, should be properly checked. One can check that field should not be overgrazed the grazing field should be changed periodically so that land would regenerate.
  4. Conservation Tillage: It is field operations aimed at preserving soil aggregates, organic matter, and surface residue from previous crops.
  5. Constructing Dams: By constructing dams across the rivers it leads to a reduction in the risk of the flow of soil in the flood case. It leads to checking the speed of water and saving soil from erosion.

Key Points of Soil Erosion

Important points for soil erosion are as follows:

  1. Soil erosion is a natural process which leads to version of the topsoil, but due to human activities, process has accelerated.
  2. It is caused by removal of vegetation, or any activities which aggregates dryness.
  3. Framing, grazing, mining, construction also leads to erosion.
  4. Drastic increase in pollution and sedimentation in rivers are also caused by erosion.

FAQs on Soil Erosion

What is soil erosion and what causes it?

Soil erosion refers to the phenomenon which occurs primarily when the dirt comes in contact with strong winds, hard rains and also flow of water.

What is caused by soil erosion?

Soil erosion causes increased pollution and sedimentation in streams and rivers, clogging of waterways.

What are the 4 main causes of soil erosion?

The 4 main causes of soil erosion are water, wind, ice and gravity.

What is soil erosion?

Soil erosion refers to the natural process by which the topsoil of field is carried away with physical sources which include wind and water.

How can we reduce soil erosion?

We can reduce the soil erosion as follows:

  1. Maintaining good plant cover.
  2. Mulching
  3. Placing wood chips, and other heavy materials which used areas for establishing and maintaining.

What are the factors affecting erosion?

Erosion is caused climatic, hydrological soil, geological and vegetation conditions.

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Last Updated : 10 Nov, 2023
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