Soil erosion is a complex process encompassing detachment, transport, and deposition, and is caused by wind, water, and physical disturbance. It reduces land productivity, challenges agricultural sustainability, and degrades soil, air, and water quality. Indirectly, erosion also degrades environmental quality through contaminants attached to the sediment and it interacts with the global carbon cycle and climate change processes. Sometimes, these impacts are so severe that they reduce quality of life and economic well being, and, in poorer nations, they can even threaten survival.
Erosion is one form of soil degradation along with soil compaction, low organic matter, loss of soil structure, poor internal drainage, salinisation, and soil acidity problems. Soil erosion is a naturally occurring process on all land. The agents of soil erosion are water and wind. Soil erosion may be a slow process that continues relatively unnoticed, or it may occur at an alarming rate causing serious loss of topsoil, structures, farmland, lower surface water quality and damaged drainage networks.
Soil erosion is when the soil is blown away by the wind or washed away by the rain. Soil erosion is the movement of soil particles by the forces of water, wind, and gravity. Erosion can occur naturally and shape landscapes slowly over time; or be accelerated by human activities, particularly land disturbing activities like forest clearing, farming, grading, dredging, and excavating.
Erosion is common in areas with steep slopes, where trees have been cut down, in droughts when crops and other vegetation grow poorly and in rural areas which are overpopulated. Soil erosion can be reduced by building terraces on hillsides, irrigation schemes to overcome droughts, planting more trees to bind the soil together and make wind breaks, and using fertilizers in overpopulated areas to make the soil more fertile. It is very important that the farming techniques used do not damage the structure of the soil, as this makes it easily eroded.
We need to prevent erosion and sedimentation because sedimentation has several detrimental effects that impair the quality of our water resources including: increased risk of flooding from streams; reduced capacity of stormwater facilities - higher flood risk; reduced capacity and useful lifespan of reservoirs; higher costs of removing sediment from municipal drinking water; loss of fish spawning habitat and habitats of aquatic organisms; kills fish; higher nutrient inputs to streams and lakes which increase algae blooms; damages to adjacent properties respectively.
SIGNS OF EROSION
Stream or pond water is red, murky, or muddy after rainfall
Bare spots on your lawn or property
Sand around drains and in low lying areas
Our soil resource is vital to the survival of the human race. Not only does it provide the literal foundation of our existence, it is the source of most of the agricultural products that sustain us and our way of life—food, fiber, timber, and energy. Because damages to soil quality are nearly always permanent, preservation of this resource is critically important to maintaining agricultural productivity and environmental quality.
Sediment can deposit and clog drainage ways, increase potential for flooding, decrease reservoir capacity, and carry nutrients and pesticides that degrade water quality. Therefore, minimizing erosion is not only important for saving the soil, it is essential for preserving potable water resources and improving water and air quality.
Increased population on land use and agricultural production continually create new and additional soil erosion problems.
• Federal and state governments, and their agencies, need to increase their support for soil erosion research to maintain an affordable, abundant, safe, and secure food supply.
There must also be an effort to increase the awareness of policy makers and the general public of the impact of erosion and sediment transport on food production and overall environmental quality and the need for continued support of efforts to assess these impacts in order to maintain a secure food supply and protect the environment.