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There are some problems that shouldn’t be taken lightly. And, soil erosion is one of them! Don’t think of it as just an inconvenience. Soil erosion can cause landscape changes, impact the water quality in your area, and even create safety hazards for people as well as animals. So, how to prevent soil erosion?
If you’re a homeowner, an avid gardener, or a lawn care enthusiast, you too must be experiencing the negative impact of soil erosion on our ecosystem. Do you have patchy lawns, clogged pools, weak and pest-infested plantings? The culprit is soil erosion! Read on to know all about it and how to prevent soil erosion in the best possible way.
What is soil erosion?
Soil erosion is a movement of soil whereby the topsoil, with most of its nutrients, is washed away due to heavy rain or wind.
Needless to say, it can cause a lot of problems for homeowners and farmers by threatening the viability of their gardens and agricultural land. Simply put, soil erosion strips a piece of land of its valuable natural resources.
What causes soil erosion?
Soil erosion witnesses a gradual wearing away of the soil surface, rocks, and pebbles. This movement in turn removes most of the organic matter and key nutrients from the soil. As a result, it degrades the soil quality, reduces crop yields, and decreases the rooting depth of plants and crops.
Let’s look at the top three causes of soil erosion.
Soil drifting or wind erosion is when high air velocity, close to the ground, causes the removal, transportation, and deposition of topsoil. Too much wind is often a problem on flat land with drier climates.
Sometimes, the soil gets carried away by heavy rain or irrigation water. Water erosion could be either sheet erosion (caused by direct rainfall) whereby the soil materials get removed uniformly from the top layer or rill erosion (caused by poor surface drainage) whereby little streamlets of water cause rills and gullies.
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Usually, tillage erosion occurs when any kind of tilling activity drags the soil downhill. The extent of damage depends on the grade of the slope and the depth of the tillage.
Effects of soil erosion
Soil erosion results in a gradual loss of soil to natural elements such as wind and water — degrading it over time. Unfortunately, soil erosion affects not just your immediate property — but the entire area too. If you don’t protect your soil from erosion, its effects can soon resound throughout your neighborhood.
- Degrades soil quality due to loss of valuable nutrients.
- Reduces soil’s productivity and fertility.
- Increases flooding and blockages due to clogged waterways.
- Degrades local air quality because of exposed soil particles.
- Causes silt build-up at the bottom of driveways.
- Clogs drainage and storm drains.
- May interfere with swimming pool maintenance and driveway stability.
How to prevent soil erosion at home?
While it’s impossible to control wind and rain and stop erosion completely, there are some techniques to prevent soil erosion. Keep in mind that these land management measures depend on the type of soil you have, your area’s topography, climatic conditions, and other factors.
- Plant vegetation as ground cover: Trees and grass help bind the soil through their roots — preventing soil movement. Plants such as herbs, wildflowers, small trees, and creepers prevent wind, soil, and water erosion by covering the soil to a large extent.
- Apply mulches: Mulching soil is known to control soil erosion. Basically, you put dead leaves and shredded wood on the soil. These act as a protective covering for the plants and trees in extreme weather. Because of mulching, the water reaches the soil slowly, thus reducing the impact of rainfall or heavy watering. Moreover, mulching helps to prevent the soil from turning acidic and even controls weeds. And, most importantly, mulch made from organic materials helps to increase the soil’s structure and fertility. If you want to know more, read: How much is a yard of mulch
- Mat the soil: Matting is basically covering the soil with biodegradable materials. These could be straw, coconut fiber, mulch, and wood chips. You then tie all these with a biodegradable netting such as coco coir and cover the soil. The biodegradable “carpet” holds the soil and turns to soil fertilizer on decaying.
- Create windbreakers by planting trees: Planting evergreen trees around gardens helps to prevent the wind from blowing the soil away. That way, your crops, and plants are protected from damage by strong and severe wind. Such plants retain sufficient moisture and have better quality than those that face harsh winds.
- Create grass waterways: Planting grass stabilizes the soil while providing an outlet for drainage.
- Install diversion structures: Diversion structures help in gully control by letting the water flow along a desired path, away from areas at high risk for erosion.
- Use soil erosion prevention techniques: If you’re a farmer, you could try some proven methods known to reduce soil erosion. These farming techniques help in conserving rainwater and reduce erosion as well as soil losses:
- Crop rotation (rotating in high-residue crops).
- Contour farming (planting in row patterns around a hill).
- Strip farming (planting fields in long strips alternated in a crop rotation system).
- Terrace farming (planting in a step-like formation).
- Conservation tillage (using methods such as no-till planting or strip rotary tillage).
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Soil is one of the most important assets of your yard. You can grow a happy, healthy plant life here. You certainly do not want it to lose its fertility and productivity through erosion. There’s no doubt that soil erosion is your yard’s enemy — in fact, the entire agriculture field’s enemy.
It’s a major environmental threat that may one day impact the climate and food security. Preventing erosion is important for the long-term viability of your garden, agricultural land, and the entire planet.