fertile soil loss due to erosion and other environmental factors. It is a huge issue in many parts of the world, and impacts communities in a range of countries. Soil erosion or loss can occur due to a number of things, including¹:
Poor usage and management of farmland
Erosion due to extreme weather events (such as flash floods, heavy rainfall, and bushfires)
Overuse, acidification, and chemical contamination
There are a number of easy ways that we can prevent soil loss through simple soil conservation methods. These include:
Practising no till farming
Tilling the soil exposes it to the elements, particularly to wind. When the soil is plowed, it becomes loose and then blows or is washed away during bad weather. When no till farming is practiced, the old crop lays on to of the soil and protects it, rather than being plowed under. This reduces exposure to wind and/or other natural forces².
Organic gardening or farming
By going organic, the use of harmful pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers is reduced. This can help conserve the soil by preventing the loss of nutrients. Organic farming also works with the natural systems of the soil, and encourages healthy bugs, fungi, and other organisms which keep the soil healthy. Organic farming is also better for human and environmental health, and is one big area where we (as humans) need to improve².
When the land is covered by forest then erosion due to natural processes is reduced. We need to prevent and/or reduce deforestation and work to increase forest cover to prevent unnecessary topsoil loss³.
Overgrazing by sheep, cattle, and other large animals has terrible effects on the soil and the rest of the ecosystem. Grazing areas need to be properly defined and separate from sensitive ecosystems. If too many animals are grazing on one area, their hooves will churn up the soil, making it vulnerable to erosion and fertility loss³.
Reduce impervious surfaces
Impervious surfaces are those which prevent water soaking into the soil (such as roads, concrete footpaths, and stone). They increase runoff when it rains, and allow water to gain the momentum it needs to erode river banks and other parts of water. One of the best ways to do this is to use pavers instead of a solid concrete pad, as they allow the water to soak down between them⁴.
Restore wetlands and other sensitive ecosystem areas
Wetlands are extremely effective at preventing soil erosion. They absorb rainwater and prevent the erosion which would otherwise be caused by flash flooding. They help keep the water clean, and keep the soil rich and the ecosystem healthy⁴.
If you use some of these simple techniques then you can play your part in conserving the environment and preventing harmful soil erosion or degradation. Don’t think that you can’t make a difference: every little action makes a difference in the fight against climate change and environmental destruction!!