Soil Erosion Essay
The term soil erosion generally means the destruction of soil by the action of wind and water. Some authors have modified this definition to include damage that is caused as a result of human actions. (D. Zachar p. 22)
Soil erosion causes a lot of damage. Apart from environmental damage involved, the financial losses associated with soil erosion are immense. For instance, America loses between $30 billion and $44 billion to soil erosion annually (Pimental et al 1993), whereas The United Kingdom also loses about £90 million (Environment Agency 1989).
The purpose of this study is to examine the causes of soil erosion, its effects on the environment and the solutions available to control it, for the purpose of academic study.
The Causes of Soil Erosion
Soil erosion is mostly caused by climatic factors. They include rainfall and wind as the major factors. Other factors that contribute to soil erosion are mostly caused by human activities. Such activities include mining, urbanization and vegetative clearing. The topography of the land also contributes to soil erosion.
Rainfall intensity contributes greatly to soil erosion. It is usually the main agent of erosion. The amount of intensity influences the magnitude of the erosion. It is the most critical factor. The greater the intensity of the rainstorm, the greater the runoff and consequently, soil erosion. (Blanco, Lal p 29).
Vegetative clearing is another factor that contributes to soil erosion. It is estimated that about 1 million hectares were cleared from the year 2000 to 2010. (SOE 2011 Report). Vegetation has a great role in preventing soil erosion. It reduces the destructive energy of rain by increasing the soil roughness. This is effective in slowing the runoff velocity. The vegetation also filters the soil particles in the runoff thus preventing further erosion. With less vegetation, the detachment of soil particles increases thus making the soil prone to erosion. Although vegetation is crucial in providing cover and averting erosion, not all vegetation play this role effectively. Dense and short growing form of vegetation, for instance, grass, is preferable to sparse and tall vegetation. Dense canopies also limit splash erosion therefore reducing soil erosion. . (Blanco, Lal p 29).
Population pressure greatly contributes to soil erosion. In China, for example an exponential rise in erosion with a rise in the total population was recorded since 220 BC (Wen, 1993). When the population is large, land becomes scarce, forcing people to farm on marginal land. The farming practices carried out on these lands are usually unwise and therefore lead to soil erosion (R. P. C. Morgan). For example, people often farm in mountainous regions such as The Himalayas in China thus exposing the soils to soil erosion. Rural to urban migration...
Loading: Checking Spelling0%
Forest Soils on Acid Essay2499 words - 10 pages Forest Soils on Acid Forest ecosystems are important both ecologically and economically. It is arguable that the most fundamental dynamic of the forest ecosystem is the forest soil. The acidity of forest soils can alter the chemistry, biota, and hydraulics of the soil, and thus, alter the soil formation characteristics and the soil composition. It follows that the acidification of forest soils demands a great deal of research and attention. ...
Soil and Water Interactions Essay765 words - 3 pages Soil is composed of minerals, soil organic material (SOM), water, and air, according to the Montana State University’s soil scientists, Ann McCauley. The actual composition of these various components within soil has a big influence on the porosity; i.e., the composition affects the movement of water into and through the soil (McCauley, 2005), and the movement of water into and through soil is absolutely necessary for productive crops, and...
Slope Movement753 words - 3 pages Slope Movement There are certain threshold conditions that can be applied to slopes- if a threshold condition is exceeded then the slope moves. There are many types of movement, and the following factors can affect movement: a) Rockfall On a cliff face material will fall as it becomes released by weathering, and often accumulates as scree at the cliff foot. The angle of the scree is just below the threshold...
dust bowl865 words - 3 pages The Dust BowlBy Kimberly TeranThe Dust Bowl of North America refers to a catastrophe in the early 1930's when vast areas of the Midwestern and Western farm lands of America became wastelands. This occurred due to a series of dry years which coincided with the extension of agriculture in...
An Overview of Indonesia's Soil Sickness1610 words - 6 pages An Overview of Indonesia's Soil Sickness The proper utilization of the world's soil to provide food for the world's increasing population is becoming an increasingly more important issue. In the tropical rain-forests, especially, the depletion of the natural ecological system has caused massive destruction to the rain-forests' soil, thereby impeding agricultural development. One of the stereotypes which is fostered by a concern for the...
Road Drainage584 words - 2 pages Introduction One of the most important factors in building a road is drainage. If every other aspect of the road design and construction is carried out properly but the road drainage is not well planned, designed and constructed, the road structure will inevitably lead to a premature failure. Erosion control is an integral part of road drainage. Excessive erosion may plug culverts leading to saturations of the road pavement structure and...
Crop Rotation and Soil Sustainability2256 words - 9 pages Crop Rotation and Soil Sustainability Agriculture is responsible for providing food for an ever-growing population, and as it becomes clear that yields cannot continue to rise without limit, sustainability of agricultural practices becomes an increasingly important question. The soil is a precious resource in which all of agriculture has its base, and careful management of this complex system is essential. Crop rotation is one of the most...
Causes of The Dust Bowl1004 words - 4 pages Causes of the Dust BowlOne of the most devastating environmental crises that occurred in the United States was the Dust Bowl. The Dust Bowl began shortly after the Great Depression began in 1929 and lasted throughout the 1930's. It affected everyone, farmers and consumers...
Microphytic Soil Crusts and Desert Ecosystems2327 words - 9 pages Microphytic Soil Crusts and Desert Ecosystems Communities of micro-organisms create crusts on soils throughout semi-arid and arid regions of the world. These microphytic (also called cryptogamic) crusts are formed when all or some of a diverse array of photosynthetic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), fungi, bacteria, lichens and mosses, bind together with inorganic particles in the first few millimeters of a soil. Microphytic crusts are...
Soil and Topography Studies1799 words - 7 pages Introduction. I strongly agree with Sommer & Schlichting, 1997 quote “Studying soils along a slope is one of the simplest, yet most elegant ways to discern spatial interrelationships between soil and topography”. Various factors are responsible for the difference in soil characteristics and pattern along a slope. The aim of this assignment is to demonstrate the credibility of this statement by providing relevant information about the different...
indigenous treatment of disease843 words - 3 pages Introduction: Overview of Soil Mechanics 1 A. What is "soil"? 1) Not "dirt"! 2) Soil is unconsolidated earthen material comprised of discrete mineral grains and decayed organic matter, along with inter− stitial gases and liquids. −> If the grains are "permanently" bonded or cemented together, the material is called...
Soil is one of the most important natural resources of man. Soils are essential for man for growing crops, fodder and limber. Once the fertile portion of the earth's surface is lost, it is very difficult to replace it. In India, the destruction of the top-soil has already reached an alarming proportion.
Land degradation problems have resulted in increasing depletion of the productivity of the basic land stock through nutrient deficiencies. In addition to the direct loss of crop producing capacity, soil erosion increases the destructiveness of floods and decreases the storage capacity of water in reservoirs.
It is therefore essential that the soils should not be allowed to wash or blow-away more rapidly than they can be regenerated, their fertility should not be exhausted and their physical structure should remain suited to continued production of desired plant materials.
Protection of land from further degradation, adoption of various conservation measures, including reclamation and scientific management of available land stock is very important for a country like India to achieve higher productivity of food, fodder, fuel and industrial raw materials on a substantial basis.
Besides, demand for land for providing social priorities such as shelter, roads, industrial activities is increasing at a very fast rate with the rise in population and very often good agricultural and forest lands are being diverted to such use.
It is, therefore, necessary to keep soil in place and in a state favourable to its highest productive capacity.
The process of destruction of soil and the removal of the destroyed soil material constitute soil erosion. According to Dr. Bennett "the vastly accelerated process of soil removal brought about by the human interference, with the normal disequilibrium between soil building and soil removal is designated as soil erosion".
Types of Soil-Erosion
Erosion of soil by water is quite significant and takes place chiefly in two ways (a) Sheet erosion, (b) Gully erosion.
(a) Sheet movement of water causes sheet erosion and depends on the velocity and quantity of pronounced surface runoff and the erodability of the soil itself. In such cases, the soil is eroded as layers from the hill slopes, sometimes slowly and insidiously and sometimes more rapidly. Sheet erosion is more or less universal on:-
- all bare follow land,
- all uncultivated land whose plant cover has been thinned out by over grazing, fire or other misuse, and
-all sloping cultivated fields and on sloping forest, scrub jungles where natural porosity of soil has been removed by heavy grazing, felling of trees or burning etc.
The particles loosened and shifted by the rain drops are carried down slope by a very thin sheet of water which moves along the surface. The impacts of the raindrops increases the turbulance and transporting capacity of this unchannelized sheetwash which results in the uniform skimming of the top soil.
Sheet erosion is considered as dangerous as it may continue for years but may or may not leave any trace of the damage. Sheet erosion is common in the Himalayan foothills, in Assam, Western ghats and Eastern ghats.
When sheet erosion continues unchecked, the silt laden run-off forms well-defined minute finger shaped grooves over the entire field. Such thin channeling is known as 'rill-erosion', which is active over wide areas in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhva Pradesh and in semiarid areas of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
(b) Gully erosion
On a gentle slope, adequately covered by vegetation, clay soil will resist erosion to a great extent and the water forms small rivulets which can then erode deeper. The rivulets in turn join together to form larger channels until gullies are formed gradually deep gullies cut into the soil and then spread and grow until all the soil is removal from the sloping ground.
This phenomenon once started and if not checked, goes on extending and ultimately the whole land is converted into a bad-land topography. Gully erosion is more common in areas where the river system has cut down into elevated plateaus so that feeders and branches carve out an intricate pattern of gullies.
Apart from this, it also takes place in relatively level country whenever large blocks of cultivation give rise to concentration of field run-off.
It occurs in dry climatic areas having a sparse and low vegetation cover on mechanically weathered, loosened surficial material. Dust storms are the principal agents of wind erosion.
The top soil is often blown off from the surface rendering it infertile. Besides, with the decrease in the wind velocity coarse sand particles get deposited in some areas covering the existing soil and rendering it unproductive.