In addition to erosion, soil quality is affected by other aspects of agriculture. The main cause of water erosion is removal of vegetation, over exploitation of vegetation, over grazing and improper agricultural practices. Thus soil becomes deficient in essential minerals and this results in productivity loss. The decline in soil quality as a result of agricultural chemical fertilizers also further leads to water and land pollution thereby lowering the land’s worth on earth. Soil degradation is a complex phenomenon derived by interaction between natural and socio economic factors. Forms of Water Erosion 3. There are certain agricultural practices that are environmentally unsustainable and at the same time, they are the single biggest contributor to the worldwide increase in soil quality decline. During last two decades the area under food crops decreased and that under non-food crops increased. These are very real and at times severe issues. Natural hazards are the conditions of the physical environment which lead to the existence of a high degradation hazard, for example steep slopes as a hazard for water erosion. A diagrammatic representation of the causes of soil acidity showing the importance of product removal and nitrate leaching in the process . 15 Exceptional Reasons Why Wildlife Conservation is Important Today, World’s 10 Most Threatened Biodiversity Hotspots, Causes, Effects and Solutions to Overgrazing, Causes, Effects and Solutions to Combat Desertification, Are Condoms Biodegradable? One of the simplest but most forgotten methods of land reclamation is the planting of vegetation such as trees, crops, and flowers over the affected soils. The complex forms of the fertilizer’s chemicals are also responsible for denaturing essential soil minerals, giving rise to nutrient losses from the soil. Deforestation causes soil degradation on the account of exposing soil minerals by removing trees and crop cover, which support the availability of humus and litter layers on the surface of the soil. What causes Soil Pollution? Rainfall, surface runoff, floods, wind erosion, tillage, and mass movements result in the loss of fertile top spoil thereby declining soil quality. Soil erosion is the most serious precursor of soil degradation that comes with global implications. Most of the soil eroded from the land together with the chemical fertilizers and pesticides utilized in agricultural fields are discharged into waterways and streams. Marginal lands though sustainable for farming are less fertile and more prone to degradation. Some bacteria and fungi overgrowth in an area can highly impact the microbial activity of the soil through biochemical reactions, which reduces crop yield and the suitability of soil productivity capacity. In India pasture land area is decreasing day by day due to expansion of agricultural land. (And 3 Ways to Dispose of). With the objective of understanding the distinct nature of soil quality decline, here are the various causes, effects, and solutions of soil degradation. While soil degradation may occur naturally, it has been highly exuberated by anthropogenic activities. The factors below can trigger degradation or deterioration of the soil; For example, physical causes involve the depletion of fertile topsoil due to water or wind erosion. Soils are a fundamental natural resource, and are the basis for all terrestrial life. Land reclamation encompasses activities centered towards restoring the previous organic matter and soil’s vital minerals. Soil Degradation Ann Verdoodt Academic Year 2011-2012 Compilation of course notes by Prof. Donald Gabriëls and new materials by Prof. Ann Verdoodt Resources Soil erosion is a naturally occurring process that affects all landforms. Natural basins without outlet for water, low permeability of subsurface horizons, internal drainage, low intake rate of surface soils and obstructions to natural flow of rain water etc. About 40% of the world’s agricultural land is severely diminished in quality because of erosion and the use of chemical fertilizers, which prevent the land from regenerating. Cultivation in Steep Slopes July 22, 2012 Footer text here17 18. Deforestation causes fast degradation when the soil is steep sloppy or easily erodible. Chemical considerations such as mineral degradation or the damage induced by acidity or alkalinity (salinization) or waterlogging. In other words, soil degradation takes away the soil’s natural capability of holding water thus contributing to more and more cases of flooding. 70% of agricultural land suited for raising livestock or crops is already degraded in Africa (FAO, 2011). The degradation or deterioration of soil may be caused by the following factors: 1. Increased runoff from urban areas also causes a huge disturbance to adjacent watersheds by changing the rate and volume of water that flows through them and impoverishing them with chemically polluted sediment deposits. Explain its significance. Soil degradation examples include a decline in soil fertility, adverse changes in alkalinity, acidity or salinity, extreme flooding, use of toxic soil pollutants, erosion, and deterioration of the soil’s structural condition. All these physical factors produces different types of soil erosion (mainly water and wind erosion) and soil detachment actions, and t… Water Erosion 2. Of the world’s total land area of 13.5 billion hectares, only 3.03 billion hectares (22 per cent) is actually cultivable and about 2 billion hectares is degraded. Due to shortage of land, increase of population and economic pressure, the farmers have adopted intensive cropping patterns of commercial crops in place of more balanced cereal-legume rotations. #3 Soil erosion gets worse The latest data provided by Sehgal and Abrol (1994) show that the total degraded land in India is 187.8 million ha, of which 162.4 million ha is degraded due to soil erosion alone (Table 27.6). As populations grow, individuals can be sensitized and educated regarding sustainable forest management and reforestation efforts. Also, preserving the integrity of guarded areas can significantly reduce demonstration. Salinity directly affects the productivity by making the soil unsuitable for crop growth. Vegetation cover primarily promotes the binding of the soil together and soil formation, hence when it is removed it considerably affects the capabilities of the soil such as aeration, water holding capacity, and biological activity. Because soil degradation contributes to land degradation, it also means that it creates a significant loss of arable land. Table 27.6 presents the area under different types of soil degradation in different years: The factors which affect soil micro flora and fauna also reduce the biological or microbial activity of soil adversely. Rainfall, surface runoff, floods, wind erosion, tillage, and mass movements result in the loss of fertile top spoil thereby declining soil quality. Soil erosion is the major cause of soil degradation. Thus, soil erosion is a continuous process and may occur either at a relatively unnoticed rate or an alarming rate contributing to copious loss of the topsoil. Out of 100 per cent potentially active lands only 44 per cent are available for cultivation and 56 per cent of land are non-available for cultivation. During last decade the nutrients deficiency has been considered as the main cause of poor productivity and crop failure. It occurs whenever the natural balances in the landscape are changed by human activity through misuse or overuse of soil. Soil fertility is reduced due to prolonged intensive cultivation. In India alone, about 188 million hectares or almost 57% of total land area is degraded (Sehgel and Abrol, 1994). In the past 150 years half the topsoil on the planet has been lost. Recent satellite data show that the area under pasture land is severely degraded. Soils become water-logged when the water balance of an area is disturbed because of excess recharge. One of the topics studied in GCSE Geography is soil erosion and degradation. Excess use of pesticide reduces microbial activity and biomass. Most of the crops in India are affected due to salinity. Soil erosion is a consequence of unsustainable land use and other disturbances, such as fire, mining, or intensive agricultural uses. Summary 10. Soil degradation is the decline in soil condition caused by its improper use or poor management, usually for agricultural, industrial or urban purposes. Secondly, it covers the soil in an impermeable layer of concrete that amplifies the amount of surface runoff which results in more erosion of the topsoil. The nodulation and growth of some leguminous crops and nitrogen fixation are inhibited by different pesticides. The rate of siltation in many water reservoirs are significantly high. In the soil erosion, uppermost fertile layer of soil which contains essential nutrients is lost. In highly productive areas, canal irrigation is responsible for a rapid rise in water table. This quiz looks not only at the causes of soil erosion, but also the effects - such as how it damages ecosystems. Steeper areas … The problem is more severe in the cultivated areas of the subtropical belt. Chemical factors such as the depletion of nutrients or the toxicity due to acidity or alkalinity (salinization) or waterlogging. Deterioration of the water quality: the increase in the turbidity of water and the contribution of nitrogen and of phosphorus can result in eutrophication. It is well known that mono cropping (growing the same crop on the same land year after year) often leads to increasing attack of pests and diseases. Overgrazing and cultivation practices that are not adapted to local environments are the principal causes of soil degradation. Plants act as protective covers as they are helpful at making the soil stronger by stabilizing the land surface. Soil quality decline is one of the main causes of land degradation and is considered to be responsible for 84% of the ever-diminishing acreage. The fatal nematodes threaten potato cultivation in the Nilgiris and, if not controlled they may pose threat to potato cultivation in that area. According to an estimate, about 0.8 million ha soil is degraded due to mining activity. The outcomes of soil erosion are reduced agricultural productivity, ecological collapse, soil degradation, and the possibility of desertification. To restore the lost soil mineral matter and organic content, it would require what is known as land reclamation. Most of the crop production practices result in the topsoil loss and the damage of soil’s natural composition that makes agriculture possible. The soil quality decline is exuberated more and more as a result of the mechanization of agriculture that gives room for deep plowing, reduction of plant cover, and the formation of the hardpan. These chemical factors normally bring forth the irreversible loss of soil nutrients and production capacities such as the hardening of iron and aluminum-rich clay soils into hardpans. Urbanization has major implications on the soil degradation process. (And Should We Stop Camping? Therefore, the misuse or excessive use of fertilizers increases the rate of soil degradation by destroying the soil’s biological activity and builds up of toxicities through incorrect fertilizer use. Hence, there is a necessity for individuals all over the world to respect forest cover and reduce some of the human-driven actions that encourage logging. The topography of the land may also be a cause of soil erosion. The degradation or deterioration of soil may be caused by the below factors; Physical factors, for example, loss of fertile topsoil due to water or wind erosion. What are antibiotics? In addition to these causes, intensive cultivation using high-yielding short-duration and fertilizer-responsive cultivars of crops has further accelerated the loss of plant nutrients which is much greater than what is supplemented through fertilizers. A study of the current trends in agronomic practices has suggested that the nutrients deficiency is further aggravated by continued use of high yielding crop varieties, intensive cropping pattern and relatively poor fertilizers. These protect the soil while returning nutrients and plant matter too. The outcomes of soil erosion and quality decline are widely irreversible. Effects of Water Erosion 4. Chemical factors e.g. It is a serious environmental problem. However, deforestation can be cut down and this can create an impressive way of reshaping and restoring forests and vegetation cover. LAND DEGRADATION : Soil quality decline is one of the main causes of land degradation and it considered to be responsible for 84% of the every diminishing acres (FAO, 2011). Soil Nutrient Mining iii. It is estimated that nearly 2 billion ha of soil resources in the world have been degraded, namely approximately 22% of the total cropland, pasture, forest, and woodland. There are several physical factors contributing to soil degradation distinguished by the manners in which they change the natural composition and structure of the soil. The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself. Organic farmers who add compost and manure to the soil replenish nutrients while reducing flooding risk and capturing carbon. Natural events such as wildfires, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis and earthquakes can totally lower the survival grade of local animal communities and plant life in a region. Just like the old adage states that “prevention is better than cure,” so does the same concept apply in solving the worldwide problem of soil degradation through salinization. Natural Causes Despite the fact that environmental degradation is under normal circumstances associated with anthropogenic activities, natural causes are also contributors. 89 billion to 232 billion which represent a loss of 11 to 26 per cent yield (Table 27.6). The unchecked and indiscriminate grazing on forest land also leads to degradation of forest soils. Nearly 10 million hectares of arable land are lost to erosion and other forms of soil degradation every year .. Countries all over the world are battling with worrisome sight of deepening gullies crisscrossing the landscape and barren fields stripped of the fertile topsoil. The costs of preventing salinization are incredibly cheaper than the reclamation projects in salinized areas. Excessive soil degradation thus gives rise to immediate and long-term impacts which translate into serious global environmental headaches. These factors reduce the yield. Soil degradation causes include agricultural, industrial, and commercial pollution; loss of arable land due to urban expansion, overgrazing, and unsustainable agricultural practices; and long-term climatic changes. Waste lands are those which for one or the other reason have poor life sustaining property. The biological factors affect mainly lessens the microbial activity of the soil. Soil and land degradation are interrelated issues and often come up in the same context. Soil degradation has several adverse impacts on the environment. The excessive use and the misuse of pesticides and chemical fertilizers kill organisms that assist in binding the soil together. Recognizing The Challenges with Preventing Or Solving Land Degradation It is viewed as any change or disturbance to the land perceived to be deleterious or undesirable. Physical factors, e.g. Soil degradation is the loss of land’s production capacity in terms of loss of soil fertility, soil biodiversity, and degradation. This is a global problem. Either way, soil erosion can lead to severe environmental degradation since large areas of land can become useless due to the erosion of soil. In extreme cases, soil becomes unfit for cultivation. Why mitochondria is called as the power house of the cell? Desertification. Organic matter is rapidly decomposed and leached or eroded by heavy rains. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Destruction of natural vegetation cover is a major factor responsible for erosion of soils by water and wind. As stated earlier, about 40% of the world’s agricultural land is lost on the account of soil quality depreciation caused by agrochemicals and soil erosion. Michael McNeill shares his observations. Many people do conceive the idea of soil degradation but a good number lacks the knowledge of its precise definition. Additional information about the process of compaction is available on the VRO website. loss of fertile top soil due to water or wind erosion. depletion of nutrients or the toxicity due to acidity or alkalinity (salinization) or water logging. Name the types of nitrogenous bases present in the RNA. Governments, international organizations, and other environmental stakeholders need to ensure there are appropriate measures for making zero net deforestation a reality so as to inhibit soil degradation. (And 10 Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds), Are Ziploc Bags Recyclable? According to Global Assessment of Soil Degradation (GLASOD), deforestation is the main cause of soil erosion by wind in about 98% of the area. Waterlogging and soil salinization is the important causes of soil degradation in Northwest India, particularly the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan. Depletion of nutrients and soil organic matter and erosion are the principal forms of soil degradation. As much as it’s a concern associated with natural environments in arid and semi-arid areas, the UN recognizes the fact that drought and aridity are anthropogenic induced factors especially as an outcome of soil degradation. This may include activities such as the addition of plant residues to degraded soils and improving range management. Replace goodness. Productivity loss of some crops is given in Table 27.5. Are Wood-burning Stoves Bad For The Environment? The water-logging and salinity cause a loss of Rs. The rates of soil erosion and the loss of soil nutrients, as well as the topsoil, are highly contributed by overgrazing. Top 5 of the World’s Most Wasteful Megacities, 25+ Spectacular Facts About the Amazon Rainforest That You May Not Know About, deforestation are also the leading causes, Can You Recycle Shaving Cream Cans? Causes of Soil Erosion It is mainly caused by salt buildup and leaching of nutrients which corrupt the quality of soil by creating undesirable changes in the essential soil chemical ingredients. In the long-term, the physical forces and weathering processes lead to the decline in soil fertility and adverse changes in the soil’s composition/structure. Applications of some pesticide chemicals (e.g., amitrole, atrazine, bromacil, picloram, etc.) According to National Commission on Agriculture (1976), about 6 million ha area is under water-logged condition. The farmers maintain productivity of soil by applying chemical fertilizers but make less use of organic manures. Industrial activities, on the other hand, release toxic effluents and material wastes into the atmosphere, land, rivers, and groundwater that eventually pollute the soil and as such, it impacts on soil quality. Before sharing your knowledge on this site, please read the following pages: 1. The tillage on agricultural lands is one of the main factors since it breaks up the soil into finer particles, which increase erosion rates. The impact of mining on soil depends on the physical, chemical properties of the waste generated. The effects of soil erosion go beyond the loss of fertile land. Degraded soils which result in poor or no production are also called problem soils. 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