Home » Environment » What is Soil Erosion?

What is Soil Erosion?

Soil is the earth’s brittle layer which took thousands of years to form. This fragile gold secures all life on its abundant lap. Earth’s surface comprises numerous living species contributing to a vibrant and intricate flora and fauna. It makes the soil a valuable possession of humans. The increase in the human population has caused a rush in demand for agricultural land and goods. The motive behind the demand is to produce incentives to alter the greenery i.e forests and grasslands to field for pastures. The hard conversion of agriculture land from nature borne vegetation frequently is unable to sustain the soil leading to erosion It is the top layer of the soil that is endangered by wind and water. Once soil erosion transpires, it is more likely to occur again.

Topsoil, which lies adjacent to the plane of the land, withholds vital nutrients for the crops to fertilize. But some plants can adhere to the cause of erosion like coffee, soybean, palm oil, cotton, and wheat can increase soil’s PH  level due to the use of fertilizer affecting the soil’s capacity to retain itself.

Soil Erosion

How does the soil gets eroded?

Soil erosion is the slow removal of the upper layer of soil also known as the form of soil degradation. This process is usually caused by erosive forces that like water, plants, air, animals, snow,  and also glacier. Following these agents, soil erosion is divided into categories like

  1.  Water erosion
  2.  Zoogenic erosion
  3.  Anthropogenic erosion
  4.  Wind (aeolian) erosion,
  5.  Snow erosion
  6.  Glacial erosion.

Soil erosion can be slow nearly unnoticeable or transpire at a disturbing rate arising a situation of severe topsoil loss.

Moreover, Soil erosion reduces soil fertility, which can affect crop production. Sending the soil-laden water and heavy layers of sediment down into the rivers preventing streams and rivers from flowing smoothly leading to flood and loss. The factor is global because of the rapid removal of soil than its formation. Creating problems for the land to be suitable for agriculture. A serious problem for the world with a population of more than 9 billion. Smarter land management is a necessity.

Erosion arises mainly due to collective factors such as:

  1. Characteristics of climate: Climate changes like frequent rainfalls can increase erosion and result in a huge load of sediments washing into rivers, lakes, and streams. These also harm the aquatic organisms as with the soil fertilizers and chemicals wash off.  Whereas drought soil can be the picture of the areas where climate change is predicted due to the increase in temperature.
  2. Soil category: The soil category can lead to weakened soil structure causing loss of soil structure and degradation of the nutrients. Thereby affecting the and soil salinity.
  3. Topography or geography (hilly areas): Soil erosion risk is higher in the sloppy or hilly terrains. In enclosed areas with evergreen vegetation, the soil erosion peril is very short, even with vertical slopes and high yearly rainfall quantity. This method of tilling the land also practiced in India provides rills at the time of rain causing the water flow to concentrate in the groves made during plowing.  This practice increases the speed of overflow thereby assisting the rapid deduction of soil.
  4. Vegetation practices and deforestation: Organic corrosion occurs when plants crack the rocks with their developing roots or plant acids leading to the dissolved rocks. Once these rocks have been diluted and broken by the above factors erosion gradually happens. The soil erosion is also a significant factor in the dry season for agricultural regions where the ground layer is thin. The cutting down of forests or burning them to promote more and more land to sustain the population adds up to the factors of soil pollution. The Amazon fire is an example of human exploiting nature.

The Situation in India:

Soil erosion in India is prevalent and a grave threat for the living beings. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself”. The factors usually occur in forest lands, dry and semi-dry lands, rural and agricultural lands, building sites, roadways,  stressed or weak lands, surface mines, glacier zones, coastal areas and in the places where natural disturbances take place.

In the coastal areas sea waves, tidal waves, and tsunamis dash along the coast and cause heavy damage to the soil. This is called littoral erosion and it is most intense along the Kerala coast. In the high altitude areas of the Himalayan region, glacial action causes soil erosion on a large scale.

Soil erosion by wind erosion is common in Rajasthan and the adjoining areas of Haryana, Punjab, and Gujarat. The large scale rill and gully erosion in the Siwalik foothills in Punjab leading for the formation of chaos and the ravines in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh formed through gully erosion are largely the result of reckless deforestation.

Measures to save the soil from erosion:

The following steps can be taken to control soil pollution-

  • Reducing chemical fertilizer and pesticide use: Applying and using bio-fertilizers like cow dung and manures can reduce chemical fertilizer and pesticide use. Organic methods of restraining pests can also reduce the use of pesticides and thereby minimize soil pollution.
  • Reusing the recyclable materials: Recycling materials such as plastic bags, glass containers,  paper, cloth, etc. at domestic levels rather than disposing of it, further reducing solid waste pollution. This is a reasonable solution for reducing soil pollution. This increases the capacity of the conservation of natural resources. For example, recycling of paper can save up to 17 trees. We could all adopt the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, this would give us less solid waste.
  • Reforestation: Trees are the best source of soil conversation as their roots firmly hold on to the soil. Restoring forests and grass can be attempted to check soil erosion and floods. Crop rotation, terrace farming or mixed cropping can perk up the fertility of the land.
  • Treatment of  Solid waste: Proper methods of conservation must be practiced to manage solid waste disposal. Industrial wastes can be dealt with and treated chemically and biologically, even biologically sometimes. Acidic wastes should be first neutralized before being disposed of.  Burying the waste in places situated away from residential areas is the simplest way of solid waste management.

Conclusion: 

In the words of Charles Kellogg “Essentially, all life depends upon the soil…There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.” It is thus very important to save the precious element of earth which is degrading day by day. Erosion is very slow but it can be controlled through proper management and sustainable techniques.  So Saving Soil is crucial and an attempt to protect its existence is imperative to Save human life.