What Is Destroying Our Soil?
Modern agriculture has had a devastating impact on soil health. While farmers grow more food crops than ever before, it's come at a cost to the topsoil that sustains our food systems. There are several reasons why topsoil can be eroded. Here are five possible causes:
Overuse of chemicals and fertilizers
When chemicals and fertilizers are applied to soil in excess, they can strip the soil of its nutrients and structure. This can lead to a number of problems, including low nutrients in the soil and little to no microbes left. Excessive use of chemicals and fertilizers can also cause the soil to become too acidic or alkaline, which can be harmful to plants. In addition, the runoff from these substances can pollute waterways and harm aquatic life. To avoid these issues, it is important to cut down on the use of chemicals and fertilizers.
Tilling involves using machinery to loosen and turn over the soil. While tilling can be beneficial for some farming practices, such as helping to incorporate organic matter and controlling weeds, it can also lead to erosion if the soil is tilled too deeply or too frequently. When soil is tilled deeply, it can disrupt the structure of the soil, making it more susceptible to erosion. Tilling can also expose the soil to harsh weather elements, which can lead to erosion from wind and water. To minimize the risk of erosion, it is important to till the soil only when necessary and to use the minimum amount of tillage required.
When rain falls on bare soil, it can wash away the top layer of soil, leading to erosion. This is especially common in areas with high rainfall or steep slopes, where the water has more force to wash away the soil. To minimize the risk of erosion from rainfall, it is important to keep the soil covered with plants or other vegetation. This can help reduce the impact of the rain and hold the soil in place. In addition, using techniques such as terracing and contour planting can help slow the flow of water and prevent erosion on slopes.
Wind can also cause topsoil erosion, especially in dry, windy regions. When the wind blows across bare soil, it can pick up and carry away the topsoil. To protect against wind erosion, it is essential to keep the soil covered with plants or other vegetation. Using windbreaks, such as trees or hedges, can also help to reduce the impact of the wind and protect the soil.
When land is developed for urban or industrial purposes, the soil is often disrupted or removed, leading to erosion. This can be especially problematic if the land is not properly re-vegetated or protected after development. To reduce the risk of erosion from development, it is vital that you take steps to preserve the soil and protect it from erosion. This can include measures such as grading the land to prevent water runoff, planting vegetation, and using erosion control products such as silt fences and straw bales.