Soil Erosion

When I was given my schedule for this semester, I was a little intrigued when I saw a class on there called soil and water science. First I thought, How could I have a whole class devoted to soil?

After the first week I have begun to realize how complex soils really are. Soil helps us humans sustain life on earth. If we were to farm our lands with no disregard at all we would not live very long on earth. As we have seen in the past, many civilizations have farmed their land as much as possible, exploiting the land for as many crops as they can get out of it. Little did they know that this had adverse affects on the soil. In China they terraced the feilds because of their lack of flat land. This caused extreme run-off and erosion of the essential nutrients needed to successfully produce a descent yield year in and year out. We have seen where that Babylonian empire expanded until its population reached a point where it could not be sustained by the land. They could not feed their army or their people and they were easily defeated by the invading armies. Over use of the land and poor technology caused this soil erosion to the point to were no crops could be grown. Their lack of knowledge also added to their devastation of the land. Back then soil erosion would of been the last thing on their mind, they were probably thinking about ways to maximize their yield, not thinking of their adverse effects on the land.

I also found it interesting how much of an affect humans have on soil erosion. We cause about 10 times more erosion than all of the other natural processes combined. Agriculture is the main cause of erosion, but there is another one that I would like to talk about, and that is construction. Today, we are trying to build wherever we can, the side of cliffs, barrier islands, and on top of loess hills. The Loess Hills are an area of the US where the soil was produced by windblown glacial dust and makes the soil very susceptible to erosion. These soils lack a good amount of clay that helps to bond soils together. Because of this sinkholes are forming all over new subdivisions in this area. Run-off from roads and other topographically high places are causing structural damage, in many cases causing homes to fall apart from the foundation. We must first begin to understand soil before we begin to tame it.

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One Response to Soil Erosion

  1. amynoelsmith says:

    I had no idea that humans cause 10times more erosion than other natural processes combined. I’m definitely part of that construction problem-my family is constantly renovating, but I never thought it would have such a large effect on the environment. Same with agriculture, who would have thought that would cause so much erosion. Plants and other forms of agriculture need the soil to stay alive. Farmers should focus on soil erosion since they need it for their business.
    There are many ways to combat soil erosion. For example, contour tillage reduces water erosion. On hilly areas plowing is done across the hill rather than straight up and down. One problem with this is that some fields’ shape make this method impractical. Terraces can also be constructed so to reduce water erosion. Also to combat wind erosion, windbreaks can be set up. Windbreaks work well in reducing wind velocities over fields, but they have one serious drawback to farmers-for every quater mile of windbreak approximately one acre is taken out of crop production.
    Hopefully more people will try to erase soil erosion so we’ll still have farms.

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