What Is Soil Erosion & Is It Important?

Soil is very much a part of the earth that is taken for granted. Soil erosion is one of the most important environmental issues in the world today, and yet it is not very well known. We are constantly told about global warming, and the impacts on sea level rise, air pollution, extremes in weather, but soil erosion is a big issue with a lot of associated effects that seems to get a bit ignored.

So What is Soil Erosion?

Soil erosion is basically the weathering and moving of topsoil from its original location to somewhere elsewhere, by hydrological or Aeolian processes (water or wind). This is a natural, geological process that has always occurred, but in the past soil was generally removed at the same rate as it is formed. It has become a problem more recently with accelerated soil erosion, whereby soil is being removed at a faster rate than it is being formed.

As with most environmental problems, man kind is a chief culprit! Accelerated soil erosion is often a result of overgrazing, deforestation or poor cultivation practices, which leave soil surfaces exposed and vulnerable to erosion. Soil erosion then causes problems at the point where the soil is lost, as well as where the soil ends up. Sites lose fertile topsoil reducing their productivity and this then ends up in watercourses where it can cause sediment build and increased nutrient content. This can then have effects on flood risk as there is less room in river channels, as well as on ecosystems and habitats down river due to eutrophication of the water (excess nutrient levels).

Soil erosion is becoming more of a talking point, and measures are being put in place to reduce it. Changes in farming practices are one key to reducing levels of soil erosion, with the encouragement for farmers to use terracing on steep land, contour ploughing, and avoiding overgrazing of land. Deforestation is also being tackled.

So…you don’t know how lucky you are to have all that soil in your back garden, so make the most of it! Look after it, improve it if needed and make the most of your precious soil!

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