Effects of Soil Erosion


Soil erosion is a global matter of concern today. We cannot even list the benefits of proper fertile soil in one single article; such huge are its utilities. Let us just say that soil supports life on Earth. Plants, trees, humans, animals, micro-organisms everything grows on the soil. As if the soil pollution and soil contamination was not enough, the soil erosion has now increased and just added to our agony. If all the soil is eroded away, that day is not far away when there will be absolutely no soil left for us. Time for us to conserve soil along with all other forms of life on earth.

Soil erosion is caused by some factors. We cannot just blame human activities for the carrying away of soil particles. There are many natural reasons that lead to soil erosions. Factors like glaciers, surface runoffs, river and stream waters, lightning, exfoliation of rocks and several such factors lead to the erosion of soil. But well, humans cannot be left out completely. Around 40-50% of the soil erosion on earth is caused by humans and their irresponsible behaviors. Deforestation, improper farming techniques, intensive agriculture, construction of roads, bridges and dams all lead to soil erosion.

Enough said about what leads to soil erosion. But have you ever thought what can soil erosion lead to? What effects can soil erosion have on the earth? That’s what we are here to discuss today, the harmful and hazardous effects caused by soil erosion. Let’s have a look.

  • While it is true that intensive agriculture and improper farming methods lead to soil erosion, it is equally true that soil erosion affects further agriculture. When the soil is being eroded, it is not just the soil that is taken away, the minerals and nutrients that naturally occur in the soil are also carried away along with it. Soil erosion removes the topmost layer of the soil, which no doubt, is the most fertile and most productive part of any soil. When the top layer is removed, rills and gullies are formed in the soil.

The harmful effects of the removal of the topmost layer of the soil just do not end here.  When the top layer is removed, the soil’s ability to store water and other nutrients are reduced. It also exposes the subsoil, which is the second layer of the soil. This subsoil has very poor physical and chemical properties. The crops that were newly planted are washed off along with the soil.

  • The soil erosion also affects the waterways. It leads to deposition of silt in the water courses and in the paths through which water flows. The eroded soil might contain fertilizers, pesticides and other harmful chemicals which will degrade the quality of the water in these rivers and streams.
  • Soil erosion harms the soil’s capacity of growing plants and crops. Due to this, the agricultural yield tends to get lower on that soil. Also, due to soil erosion, there might be a lot of clay deposited in the topmost layer of the soil, which results in shallower topsoil. This limits the development of the roots of the plants and trees that grow in that soil.
  • Most of the air pollution that is caused is due to soil erosion. The soil particles carried in the air lead to dust. The air might also contain chemicals from agricultural lands. This soil dust in the air often leads to respiratory problems and skin infections in humans.
  • Soil erosion also harms the economy of the country in a great way. Especially in the developing countries and also in the underdeveloped countries, the farmers themselves are so poor that they cannot afford to implement methods of conservation of the soil. Hence, they cannot stop the soil erosion and in a few years, the soil gets unsuitable for agriculture due to continuous soil erosion.
  • Places that are more exposed to soil erosion are eroded over years and years. This might lead to desertification of the land in a few years after being constantly eroded. If the soil erosion is not stopped, then all lands will turn into nothing but huge stretches of deserts, which are not suitable for life.
  • As mentioned above, due to soil erosion, the topmost layer of the soil is eroded, thus exposing the subsoil. The subsoil has poor properties. Due to the exposure of the subsoil, the moisture content of the soil decreases, as the poor subsoil cannot store enough moisture. This kills the microorganisms that were inhabiting the soil. Thus, the fertility of the soil deteriorates.
  • Due to soil erosion, the Sandy storms in a particular area are increased. These storms not only harm the plants and the crops, but they also are the main reason the rainfall in that particular area reduces much than before.
  • The soil that is eroded and carried away by waters from streams and rivers is deposited on the river beds. Thus, the water levels in the rivers and streams increase due to this which leads to floods. Floods have a disastrous and devastating effect on every form of life on earth.
  • The topmost layer of the soil takes as long as 300-400 years to form. When that soil is eroded away rapidly, one can well imagine how long it will take for another top layer to build up. Sadly enough, we humans do not give even a little time to the soil to recover for its lost nutrients. We keep performing our activities without any break, thus degrading the soil.

Soil erosion might sound to be a small issue, but after knowing all the harmful effects that soil erosion leads to, can we still say the same? Soil erosion is the basic agent that leads to many other disastrous effects. Now that we know what impacts soil erosion has on the air, the water, the economy, the foods, we can surely take an initiative now to stop soil erosion and save whatever little is left.

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