Erosion is defined as the removal of soil, sediment, regolith, and rock fragments from the landscape.
Most landscapes show obvious evidence of erosion. Erosion is responsible for the creation of hills and valleys. It removes sediments from areas that were once glaciated, shapes the shorelines of lakes and coastlines, and transports material down-slope from elevated sites.
How does soil erosion occur?
In order for erosion to occur, three processes must take place: detachment, entrainment and transport. Erosion also requires a medium to move material. Wind, water, and ice are the environmental media primarily responsible for erosion. Finally, the process of erosion stops when the transported particles fall out of the transporting medium and settle on a surface. This process is called deposition.
The negative effects of soil erosion are many. When the topsoil on your land washes away, it takes with it nutrients that your plants need to grow well. It can cause gullies in your garden or field, which makes it harder to create a level planting area. The soil that is left will crust over more easily, which makes it hard for seeds to break through, and hard for rainwater to be absorbed. Soil erosion can also be damaging to marine life. When excess soil is washed into rivers and streams, it can disturb the delicate balance that is needed for the aquatic ecosystem to thrive.
Soil Erosion Control – Soil Erosion Prevention
Soil erosion control begins with soil erosion prevention, and certain plants are excellent at soil erosion prevention. But when it’s too late for soil erosion prevention, you simply have to fix a problem that already exists. Building retaining walls addresses both kinds of soil erosion control issues — both preventing it and fixing an existing problem.
Contour farming is another method that’s useful in preventing and controlling soil erosion by water runoff. It’s done by planting along the slope of a hill, following the natural contours of the land, instead of straight up and down or across.
Another method is that you could plant a cover crop when your land is not in use. Besides providing protection for your land, many cover crops are nitrogen-fixers, which mean they absorb nitrogen from the air and deliver it back to the land.
If you have a problem with wind erosion, try planting a windbreak. A windbreak can be a row of trees, bushes or even a plastic snow fence. Anything that will keep high winds from sweeping across your land can help prevent wind erosion.
Keeping your soil healthy is a very important step to take in preventing soil erosion. Soil that is rich in organic matter has better structure and is less susceptible to being washed or blown away. To keep your soil healthy, add plenty of compost each year and don’t over-till when you are planting.
Preventing soil erosion is always preferable to attempting to control or reverse it later. Once an area of land has been eroded, it’s sometimes impossible to correct it.