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The Negative Impacts Of Soil Erosion Environmental Sciences Essay

Soil erosion is an activity whereby soil (mostly the very best fertile soil) is transported or swept from its environment then deposited to other places. This usually happens because of this of wind flow, water flow, rainfall, by the force of gravity (down slope movement of soil) and human as well as animal activities. Erosion is an all natural process although it has been seen to rise due to extensive use of land and more so in the agricultural industry. The reduction of soil cover and the cutting down of trees also triggers soil eroison. Agricultural land that can be used on the professional scale sometimes appears to be the most afflicted as it is put through greater rates of erosion. That is evident especially when there is the use of tillage which clears vegetation covering the soil while disturbing soil structures as well as roots holding soil particles together.

Soil erosion triggers lots of impacts but the primary area of concern in this report is soil degradation by erosion affecting the world's food supply. Soil is taken to be the world's most valued resource. "The increased loss of this resource, through land degradation processes such as wind and water erosion, is one of the very most serious environmental problems we have been faced with as it is destroying the method of producing food" (Willett, 89). This is a problem that affects the whole world as food is a simple need. Erosion, eliminates the best organic matters, it tempers with the depth of the very best rich soil, reduces the soils capacity to hold water, and influences the soil biota. "Rainfall's beneficial impacts are reduced too due to increases in water runoff and reductions in the soil's water holding capacity. Taken together or separately, these factors limit the soil's productivity and, as a result, can reduce crop yields from 15 to thirty percent" (Pruski, 15).

A research carried out by the U. N showed that about 11% of the worlds best soils (which can be as large as size India and China come up with) have been spoiled by our activities from as early as 1935. "About 9 million hectares of arable land have been irreversibly damaged by erosion through overgrazing, deforestation and unsustainable agricultural practices. A further 1. 25 billion hectares is considered to be seriously degraded and could be restored only at great costs" (Hinkel, 81).

There are extensive examples showing that erosion has really affected the world's food supply. This one is explained by Lal who reveals that:

Erosion is very significant in land degradation that brings about decline in crop production which eventually leads to a drop in the world's food supply. On a worldwide scale, the twelve-monthly lack of 75 billion tones of soil through deforestation as a significant cause of soil erosion costs the earth about US$400 billion in a year (at US$3/ton of soil for nutrients and US$2/ton of soil for water), or approximately US$70 per person annually. It is estimated that the total total annual cost of erosion from agriculture in america is approximately US$44 billion in a year or about US$247/ha of cropland and pasture. In Sub-Saharan Africa it is much larger; in some countries productivity has declined in over 40% of the cropland area in two decades while population has doubled. Overgrazing of vegetation by livestock and subsequent land degradation is a widespread problem in these regions (Lal, 157).

The production ability of most land that has been put through soil erosion is seen to decline up to 40% due to soil erosion caused mainly by deforestation. The reduced amount of yields in Africa therefore of erosion is approximately ten to fifty percent. "The full total mean loss for your continent stands at 9%. Africa is perhaps the continent most severely influenced by land degradation due to soil erosion, with the global average being lower, possibly in the number of 1-8%" (Baanante, 224). With increasing land degradation due to erosion and deforestation triggering erosion on a bigger scale, food productivity might actually drop up to 50% necessitating international aid which impacts the supply from wherever the food is via. With the existing rate of population growth and soil erosion it is stated that by 2050 there will be a humanitarian crisis so far as food supply can be involved.

Another good example is of an East African country (Kenya) which includes had severe famine due to lack of enough produce. In Kenya agriculture is taken up to be the backbone of the country. The united states was primarily self sufficient in conditions of feeding its people. The famine that damaged the country was attributed to soil erosion that occurred mainly through unsustainable agricultural practices that exposed soil to erosion and deforestation. Kenya being truly a hilly country is highly prone to erosion by gravity. This problem is manufactured worse by unsustainable agriculture that does not look after the problem of soil erosion. Top fertile soil was extensively overly enthusiastic abandoning soil that had not been best for agricultural food production. Due to insufficient produce in the year 2007 and later rains were not sufficient in the entire year 2008 a great famine ensued leaving visitors to boil poisonous wild fruits for hours to extract the poison to be able to repair a hot plate (Kamau 17). Research shows that lack of rain again was due to deforestation that is helping desertification in this nation. The country was forced to use all its food reserves to the extent of requesting emergency relief food from international organizations.

Generally soil erosion occurs where there is insufficient sufficient soil cover, putting this in consideration; the problem can only just worsen when necessary measures aren't taken promptly. When erosion continues all fertile soils will be swept away leaving behind soils that are not good for crop production or farming activities. Because of having less vegetation on land, rainfall attraction does not take place then a famine may be realized. Many countries having this issue rely on other countries for food supply thus creating imbalance in the way to obtain food. All of this is brought about by not tackling the initial problem that is soil erosion.

The percentage of desertification is high in the world today. In deserts and arid areas hardly any crop production can take place. Deserts do occur because there is insufficient vegetation which is accountable for rainfall attraction and soil cover for water preservation. When soil erosion occurs these areas lack the capability to have vegetation and so there will not be water retaining functions or factors influencing rainfall attraction. What will be left is the soil contact with wind and other factors that influence soil erosion. The primary factor influencing this is deforestation. After sometime these areas lose all agricultural relevancies thus having a poor effect on food supply.

Across the earth research shows that after soil erosion (especially after over use of agricultural land or tillage erosion) has occurred the rest of the soil is not good quality soil for food crops. What is normally done with this is actually the planting of other crops which may survive harsh conditions and the soils that are left behind. These crops are usually cash crops as food crops need more nutrients to grow. With the existing rate of soil erosion most elements of the world lack the capacity to create food crops and rely on other countries to create food crops for them. This is also a negative factor to the worlds food supply because the initially food productive areas are unproductive at the time when the populations are high needing more food crops. This also has a negative effect on the worlds food supply.

Soil erosion does not only create unfavorable conditions for crop growth through land degradation but as shown by Matende:

The implications of soil erosion extend beyond the removal of valuable top soil. That is in regards to erosion brought about by water or rain. Crop emergence, growth and yield are directly afflicted through the increased loss of natural nutrients and applied fertilizers in the soil. Seeds and plants can be disturbed or completely taken off the eroded site by water erosion. Organic matter from the soil, residues and any applied manure is relatively light-weight and can be readily transported off the field, particularly during spring thaw conditions. Pesticides can also be carried off the site with the eroded soil. This can effect negatively on the supply of food particularly if corrective measures are not taken promptly or generally poor yields will be realized (Matende, 234).

"Wind erosion in addition has been seen to cause significant losses on food crops. The unavailability of lasting vegetation cover in a lot of areas has resulted in widespread wind erosion" (Bramson, 21). "Loose, dry, bare soil is the most susceptible; however, crops that produce low levels of residue also might not exactly provide enough resistance. Wind erosion could also create adverse operating conditions in the field" (Mathews, 67). Food crops can be destroyed completely bringing about expensive delays and necessitating reseeding. If not the food crops could are sandblasted and destroyed with the end result being no yield, low yield and poor quality yields that impact negatively on food supply.

"Off-site impacts of soil erosion aren't always as apparent as the on-site effects. Eroded soil, deposited down slope can inhibit or delay the emergence of seeds, bury small seedling and necessitate replanting in the affected areas" (Knight, 212). This kind of erosion is generally brought about by water or rainfall. When there are heavy rainfalls soils that are unprotected, nor have satisfactory cover or are loose due to tillage and human activities can easily be swept away. This type of erosion has its share of unwanted effects so far as food supply can be involved as in the event of erosion taking place in wide areas crops can not only be buried however, many will be left bare and so germination will either not happen or the exposed seeds can be devoured by birds and other animals. If corrective measures aren't taken on time there will be little or no production whatsoever. This also impacts the general food supply nowadays.

Therefore as shown in this report various types' soil erosion has adverse impacts on the worlds food supply. Nevertheless, improved land use practices if embraced can mitigate this situation, using techniques such as terrace building, conservation tillage practices, and tree planting can help reduce soil erosion. When these practices are used properly soil erosion can not only be reduced significantly to about the same rate of soil reform but also the entire world will realize better food crop production and you will see sufficient food security. Using these procedures again food crop yields could increase up to 20% this is in northern America and from about 4 to 17% in Africa.

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