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Soil Erosion-The Three Main Causes and Fixes

Updated on August 7, 2013

Soil erosion has became a major concern and problem in America, with more land depleted than not. The loss of the organic rich topsoil that forms a protective layer over soil, can make once rich land barren and unusable for agriculture or even livestock grazing. This top soil then gets washed into streams and rivers wreaking havoc on plant and animal life.

While there are many forms of erosion, three are responsible for most of it; over-graving, over-cultivation and deforestation. As with the names, over consumption and making room for a larger population is the root cause of all three.

Over-cultivation takes place first when the land is cleared of vegetation for agriculture, stripping the soil of any cover, leaving it bare to the elements. Excesses watering of the fields can create runoff with fertilizers and excess sediments to pollute neighboring water cources. Plowing and over plowing impact the dirt, losing precious aeration, as well as churn up the topsoil which is then lost to wind erosion.

No till farming can help sustain land, so much so that cash crops can be grown every year. Rotating crops with plants like hay and clover can give the land a break and enough time to replete the topsoil with organic nutrients and nitrogen. Contour strip cropping designs cops at right angles to contour slopes and lessen erosion. Farmers have also made shelter beds to stop the erosion by planting patches of trees and shrubs by crops.

Over-grazing is easy enough to understand. Basically the ground has too many animals for the space provided and eats more than the grass can replenish. Without a break for the land to replenish itself, dirt is left unprotected and eventually erodes to unusable land. There is also a issue with native plants and animals as the grazing animals take their natural resources away, as well as their excrement and trampling pollute watering holes.

The way to combat this type of erosion, local government has stepped in and bought up acres and acres of grassland. In turn the plots are rented out by the animal grazing and in this way, controls the amount of grazing per square unit of land. Better yielding grass could be a beneficial way to keep up with the amount of animals. With a farm that grows crops and agriculture, a rotating schedule can be a way of using the land for money every year, but still giving the land time to replenish what each crop takes out.

Deforestation is a big problem of soil erosion and with the growing population, need for wood and agricultural land will not be waning any time soon. Erosion from deforestation occurs when the land is stripped of the vegetation, its natural barrier protecting the organic humus rich topsoil. Like all causes of erosion, baring the ground to the wind and rain will result in sediment run off. This sediment is crucial for growing high-yielding crops, as well as becomes a problem in the water ways, by raised chances of flooding and just the pollution of the water.

The solution or fix to this problem is not an easy one, as there are million more each year to feed and house. One thing that I think would help the issue is to use faster growing and more reusable types of building material, like bamboo. Other material like concrete and rock are in heavy supplies and can be a greener solution than cutting down acres of forest that holds a delicate eco-system in the balance. As some is cleared for agriculture, high yielding strands of crops can produce more food in less places. Only after the land is completely used of all crop use, then it should be made into more housing land.


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