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 Main agents of  Erosion causes

:
erosion: › Loss of soil fertility
› Wind › Runoff polluting
› Water waterways
› Gravity  Fish kills
 Coral reef bleaching
 Human causes:
 Clogs irrigation drains
› Farming
› Overgrazing
› Logging/deforestation
› Construction
› Off-roading
 Decreases plant nutrients
 Decrease ability of soil to store water
 Increase costs—fertilizer
 Increase flooding
 Silt buildup in
waterways
 Occurred during
1930’s/Great Depression
in United States
 Causes: drought & bad
farming practices
› Overgrazing
› Plowed prairies—
destroyed root systems
› Land left bare between
harvests
› Drought 1926-1934
› 1934 dust cloud
traveled 1500 miles and
covered eastern U.S.
 Forced internal
migration
 1935 Soil Erosion Act:
established soil
conservation service
 Could happen again
due to cyclical
droughts & global
warming
 Desertification:  Slowing
the decrease in Desertification
productivity of › Decrease
arid/semi-arid land  Overgrazing
 Causes: climate  Deforestation
change &  Destructive farming
practices
degradation of
› Plant anchoring
topsoil
root plants
› Stabilize global
warming
“Because the poor often farm degraded land that
is increasingly unable to meet their needs,
desertification is both a cause and a
consequence of poverty. Fighting desertification
must, therefore,
be an integral part of our wider efforts to
eradicate poverty and ensure long-term food
security.”
–Kofi Anan 2003 (UN Secretary General)
 Effects:
› Stunts crop growth
› Lowers crop yields
› Kills plants
 Salinization:
irrigation water
evaporates leaving
salts in soil
 Causes: over
irrigation leaving
standing water
 Waterlogging:
large amounts of
water leaches salts
deep into soil profile
 If drainage is poor,
saline water
envelops roots
› Can kill plants
 The reduction of soil erosion & restoration of
soil fertility
 Primary goal: keep soil covered in vegetation
 Methods:
› Conventional-tillage farming: leaves soil
bare throughout the year
› Conservation-tillage farming: little to no
disruption of soil
 If 80% US farms used this method, soil erosion
would decrease by half
 SUBSIDIES to farmers (Nebraska)
 Terracing
 Strip Cropping
 Alley
Cropping/Agroforestry
 Windbreaks/Shelterbelts
 Gully Reclamation

 Which way does the water
flow in relation to the
contour? Why is this type
of farming good for soil
conservation?
 Animal Manure: dung/urine
 Green Manure
 Compost
 Spores: mycorrihizae symbiosis
 Crop Rotation: nutrient depleting crop
then legume (nitrogen fixator)

 Chemical fertilizers
› Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium
› Have increased crop yields
› Doesn’t add humus, lessons soil’s ability to
hold water, lowers oxygen levels in soil, only
provides 2-3 of 20 needed nutrients, releases
nitrous oxide into atmosphere (GHG)
“Soil erosion is second only to
population growth as the biggest
environmental problem the world
faces. Yet the problem, which is
growing ever more critical, is being
ignored, because who gets excited
about dirt?”