The removal of topsoil by wind and water is called soil erosion. Tractor tires make deep grooves, which are natural pathways for water. Activities that remove vegetation, disturb the ground, or allow the ground to dry are activities that increase erosion. Also, the silt up can support plant life that can, in turn, cause cracks and weaken the structures. 1. Grazing animals can cause erosion if they are allowed to overgraze and remove too much or all of the vegetation in a pasture. Although soil erosion is a natural occurrence on all land, there are certain factors that call accelerate erosion making it more noticeable and problematic. Recreational activities may accelerate soil erosion. Soil erosion is a major driver of desertification. Agricultural tillage depending on the machinery used also breaks down the soil particles, making the soils vulnerable to erosion by water. Even deforestation or reduced vegetation caused by things like forest fires are sometimes unavoidable. Grazing animals (FigureÂ 2)Â wander over large areas of pasture or natural grasslands eating grasses and shrubs. As a result, the lack of land cover causes increased rates of soil erosion. © 2020 . Soil erosion decreases soil fertility, which can negatively affect crop yields. Water Runoff. Rill and gully erosion happen when impromptu streams form for water to carry away topsoil. (a) Disturbed land at a coal mine pit in Germany. Agricultural practices such as burning and clearing of vegetation also reduce the overall vegetation cover. Soils eroded from logged forests clog rivers and lakes, fill estuaries, and bury coral reefs. Constructing buildings and roads churns up the ground and exposes soil to erosion. Factors like heavy rainfall, flooding, high winds, and even mass movements are part and parcel of the cyclical nature of soil. Causes of Soil Erosion Various agents, like wind, water, deforestation, overgrazing by cattle, etc., cause soil erosion. Deforestationis a major cause of soil erosion, perhaps the main cause. High winds can contribute to soil erosion, particularly in dry weather periods or in the arid and semi-arid (ASAL) regions. What is Soil Conservation and What are Various Ways To Conserve Soil? These occur more often when the land is not covered with grass or plants. Soil erosion is a process that involves the wearing away of the topsoil. In the absence of plants, Soil can be carried away easily by a strong wind and water. Wind erosion happens when wind gusts blow away unsecured soil. The accumulation of soil and crop debris at the. Wind is also a leading cause of soil erosion because wind can pick up soil and blow it far away. As mentioned, the predominant causes of soil erosion are either related to naturally-occurring events or influenced by the presence of human activity. Soil erosion is more likely where the ground has been disturbed by agriculture, grazing animals, logging, mining, construction, and recreational activities. Water and wind erosion are two main agents that degrade soils. What Is Soil Erosion? Due to Soil Texture. What causes erosion? Causes of Soil Erosion The flow of rivers and streams causes valley erosion. Runoff washes away the soil particles from sloping and bare lands while wind blows … If soils get saturated with water after prolonged periods of intensive rain, their capacity to absorb water decreases. The water flowing in the rivers and streams tend to eat away the soils along the water systems leading to a V-shaped erosive activity. The outcomes of soil erosion are reduced agricultural productivity, ecological collapse, soil degradation, and the possibility of desertification. Sheet erosion affects a whole area, when water or the wind act like a broom to clear out the topsoil. The agents of soil erosion are the same as the agents of all types of erosion: water, wind, ice, or gravity. Soil erosion from surface water runoff often causes serious damage to roads and tracks, especially if stabilizing techniques are not used. It happens in the place where soil is not covered by plants. The transformations are worsened by the destructive use of the land and deforestation that leaves the soil naked and open to erosion. The transformation of natural ecosystems to pasture lands has largely contributed to increased rates of soil erosion and the loss of soil nutrients and the top soil. (And Which Foods to Avoid), Can Squirrels Eat Raisins? Soil erosion refers to the process whereby the top layer of soil is removed. They also churn up the ground with their hooves. Luxury Landscape Supply explains the four common causes of soil erosion below. Let us have a detailed look at the causes, effects and prevention of soil erosion. The problem may become so severe that the land can no longer be cultivated and must be abandoned. Tillage erosion is the redistribution of soil through the action of tillage and gravity (Figure 8). The consequences of soil erosion are primarily centered on reduced agricultural productivity as well as soil quality. This is geological erosion.. Soil erosion is, thus, more common in desert or Barren land. (And Which Foods Do They Actually Like), How Do Birds Mate? The agricultural plants that often replace the trees cannot hold onto the soil and many of these plants, such as coffee, cotton, palm oil, soybean and wheat, can actually worsen soil erosion. (a) The bare areas of farmland are especially vulnerable to erosion. Many of the tropical forests that remain are currently the site of logging because North America and Europe have already harvested many of their trees (Figure 4). Logging results in the loss of leaf litter, or dead leaves, bark, and branches on the forest floor. Put simply, the causes of soil erosion are somewhat inevitable. Soil moisture content and organic matter make up are some of the soil component aspects that determine erosivity of wind or rainfall. (And Can They Choke on Raisins), Can Squirrels Eat Popcorn? lower end of this field is an indicator of sheet erosion. Soil erosion is a gradual process that occurs when the impact of water or wind detaches and removes soil particles, causing the soil to deteriorate. Rapidly moving stormwater, flashfloods, and flooding may also occur because of excess surface water runoff, thus, causing extreme local erosion by plucking bed rocks, forming rock cut-basins, creating potholes, and washing away the loosened soil particles. It is this layer of soil that is endangered by wind and water erosion. This erosive activity is evident in most rivers or streams especially during heavy rainfall and rapid river channel movement. Farmers remove native vegetation and then plow the land to plant new seeds. This means most of the environmental problems the world face today arises from soil erosion. Agriculture is probably the most significant activity that accelerates soil erosion because of the amount of land that is farmed and how much farming practices disturb the ground (FigureÂ 1). Soil erosion is as natural as any other type of erosion, but human activities have greatly accelerated soil erosion. The effects of soil erosion include: Lands used for crop production have been substantially affected by soil erosion. Soil erosion is a gradual process of movement and transport of the upper layer of soil (topsoil) by different agents – particularly water, wind, and mass movement – causing its deterioration in the long term. Water. Soil erosion eats away the top soil which is the fertile layer of the land and also the component that supports the soil’s essential microorganisms and organic matter. This reduces soil quality and agricultural productivity. When she is not writing, she loves watching sci-fi movies on Netflix. What are Natural Resources, Types and Threats to Natural Resources. Whyte (1957) while commenting on the problem of soil erosion of Kashmir Himalayas, mentioned, “control of fluctuating grazing was made the responsibility of forest department in 1939 but this appears to have little effect and the problem is as acute as ever”. Plant roots firmly hold the soil particles together. How Does Photosynthesis Take Place in Desert Plants? Apart from polluting the water systems, high soil sedimentation can be catastrophic to the survival of aquatic life forms. Erosion, physical process in which soil, rock, and other surface material are removed from one location and transported to another. When the rivers and streams are full of soil deposits due to sedimentation and the valley levels up with the surface, the water ways begin to wash away the soils at the banks. If the texture is loose that is the soil contains more of small grains and of open structure erodes faster. If too many animals graze the same land area, the animals’ hooves pull plants out by their roots. Running water is one of the main cause of soil erosion. (b) Slash-and-burn agriculture leaves land open for soil erosion and is one of the leading causes of soil erosion in the world. Grazers expose soil by removing the plant cover for an area. Depending on the type of force, erosion can happen quickly or take thousands of years. Rain and Rainwater Runoff Sediments may also enter the fish gills, affecting their respiratory functions. (And Process of Formation), Causes and Effects of Marine Habitat Loss, 35+ Outstanding Facts About the Planet Earth, Advantages and Importance of Reforestation, Five Different Atmospheric Layers of the Earth, Causes and Effects of Ozone Layer Depletion, Extraordinary Ways to Protect Coral Reefs, Causes and Effects to Environmental Pollution, Causes and Effects of Ocean Acidification. Geologists estimate that 70 percent of soil erosion is caused by human activities like excessive construction, agriculture, surface mining and forestry. Some of the dust particles may contain harmful and toxic particles such as petroleum and pesticides that can pose a severe health hazard when inhaled or ingested. In tropical areas, rainfall and water flow are the main reasons causing soil erosion, whereas on the Loess Plateau of China, water erosion is a great problem. It gradually transforms a habitable land and the ASAL regions into deserts. Rainstorm produces four major types of soil erosion including rill erosion, gully erosion, sheet erosion, and splash erosion. Here are few of the major causes of soil erosion. The various factors of soil erosion are: 1. Figure 3. Wind erosion picks up dust particles of the soil and throws them into the air, causing air pollution. The carrying away of dry soil and loose sand particles is known as deflation. Silt can smother the breeding grounds of fish and equally lessens their food supply since the siltation reduces the biodiversity of algal life and beneficial aquatic plants. While it is a natural process, caused by the weather, it is also caused by human activity, and it can cause harm to agricultural processes when it occurs rapidly and excessively. The soil that is most likely to erode is the nutrient-rich topsoil, which degrades the farmland. Agriculture is the main way humans cause soil erosion. Over time, repeated rainfall can lead to significant amounts of soil loss. In the absence of trees, it can lead to heavy erosion of topsoil. Causes of Soil Erosion: Soil erosion is also referred to as the creeping death. In some locations soil erosion may occur about 10 times faster than its natural rate. This usually leads to loss of biodiversity, alteration of ecosystems, land degradation, and huge economic losses. These types of erosions are caused by the impacts of raindrops on the soil surface that break down and disperse the soil particles, which are then washed away by the stormwater runoff. Water is the most common cause of soil erosion. Soil erosion is incredibly problematic, but it is also preventable and reducible when you take the right steps. In other words, soil erosion is the removal of the most fertile top layer of soil through water, wind and tillage. Some soil erosion causes are mentioned below. Overstocking and overgrazing has led to reduced ground cover and break down of the soil particles, giving room for erosion and accelerating the erosive effects by wind and rain. The causes of soil erosion are directly related to improper landuse, and are, therefore, entirely man-made. This technique in parti… What are some human activities that increase the likelihood that soil will be eroded? Since Europeans settled in North America, about one-third of the topsoil in the area that is now the United States has eroded away. Figure 7. These types of erosions are caused by the impacts of raindrops on the soil surface that break down and disperse the soil particles, which are then washed away by the stormwater runoff. Erosion will often occur after rock has been disintegrated or altered through weathering. Water ways may also be blocked, and it may affect water quality. Near construction sites, dirt, picked up by the wind, is often in the air. The wet areas include; the shores of Lake Victoria, Kigezi highlands, Nyanza province, Imatong hills in southern Tanzania. http://www.ck12.org/earth-science/Soil-Erosion/lesson/Soil-Erosion-HS-ES/?referrer=featured_content. It results in the progressive down-slope movement of soil, causing severe soil loss on upper-slope positions and accumulation in lower-slope positions. Bank erosion happens when bodies of water sap away the topsoil near its shores. The leaves and canopy of big, tall trees protects the soil from wind and rain. Soil erosion is a continuous process that occurs either slowly or at an alarming rate. There are many different forces in nature that cause erosion. Soil erosion usually happens in overly disturbed soil systems especially with unfavorable weather conditions. Wind causes erosion of rock particles driven by soil and sand particles that are not tightly glued together and not insulated by vegetation. (b) This coal mine in West Virginia covers more than 10,000 acres (15.6 square miles). Accumulated sediments can also cause clogging of water ways and raises the water level leading to flooding. Causes of Soil Erosion. It is severe during the times of drought in the ASAL regions. The root structure of trees hold the soil in one place. Erodibility of soil. Her passion for science education drove her to start EarthEclipse with the sole objective of finding and sharing fun and interesting science facts. Up and down field tillage practices as well create pathways for surface water runoff and can speed up the soil erosion process. Soil erosion is the washing away of the topsoil from one place to another by erosional agents like wind, water, animals, and glaciers. Deforestation and urbanization are some of the human actions that have continued the cycle of soil loss. 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