Soil erosion happens naturally. Water and wind have always washed soil down rivers and to the sea, whittling away at the arable land in one place so that nature can make more somewhere else. Where human activity is concerned, this otherwise natural phenomena can unfortunately proceed much more quickly than would be natural. Accelerated by issues like improper landscaping or overused farmland, this kind of erosion can result in considerable human and economic damage.
What leads to erosion?
Water or wind are inevitably the causes of soil erosion. Flowing across soil or meadows, water may etch deep ravines or turn hillsides into catastrophic waves of mud. Wind can pick up exposed soil and carry it hundreds of miles, making useless dust where previously productive farmland used to be. As water flows faster and wind picks up speed, the amount of damage goes up. If plants stand in their path, they slow down or stop — and do far less harm as a result.
What kind of erosion is caused by water?
Flowing water tends to be responsible for tunnel, gully, stream bank, or sheet and rill erosion.
Tunnel erosion is subsurface erosion that happens when water carves out routes in the soil as it makes its way through burrows, root channels, and cracks.
Gully erosion is characterized by sharp-edged channels cut at least a half-meter deep in the land. It’s caused by surface water flows concentrating together and etching the land as they go.
Stream bank erosion happens when sudden or intermittent peak flows in a creek or stream make the stream cut wider and deeper channels through the land.
Sheet and rill can be caused by both water and wind. Rain, wind, or shallow water flows may all strip away surface soil. If the water creates a channel deeper than a half meter, it’s called a gully. Channels less than a half-meter are referred to as rills.
What kind of erosion is caused by wind?
Blowing wind generally causes wind and coastal erosion, but may also be responsible for sheet and rill erosion as mentioned previously.
Wind erosion is a catch-all term for the erosion that occurs mostly in farming, where soil components blow away from spots where the wind can access the fragile surface directly.
Coastal erosion is a sub-type of wind erosion that occurs on the coast, when vegetation leaves sand dunes exposed to the wind.
What can you do to stop and prevent erosion?
Plants are the best measure against soil erosion. They act to shield the land from the scouring action of wind and water, by slowing down either. Plant roots fix soil to the spot and help keep it from washing away. When raindrops fall, plant leaves break their impact and reduce the raindrops’ ability to remove soil. In wetlands, the plants may be all that prevents soil from washing away immediately.
Whether you’re looking to hold your front yard in place or ensure a healthy place to plant your crops, making sure plants are always growing on the soil will preserve it for years to come. You can get even better results by encouraging diversity and allowing native plants to flourish: indigenous plants are better adapted to the land and will do more to preserve it.