Soil erosion is a common problem that most farms have to contend with at some point or another.
Soil erosion occurs when the surface of the soil starts wearing away, little by little. Soil is removed during the process, as well as a host of nutrients that keep your crops healthy. Soil erosion can lead to all kinds of problems for farmers everywhere, including a loss of the topsoil, soil compaction, drainage problems, high soil acidity levels, water pollution and fewer organic and fertile materials in the soil, just to name a few. Soil erosion is incredibly problematic, but it is also preventable and reducible when you take the right steps. But, before we go into how to prevent soil erosion, you first need to understand what causes it.
Common Causes of Soil Erosion
#1. Water Runoff
Soil erosion is most common in areas that get lots of heavy rain. If there’s just a small amount of rain, the water can start to break the soil down. This leads to the dispersion of materials in the soil that are lighter weight, like fine sand particles, organic matter and silt. However, if the rain is heavy enough, it can also eat away at the larger components in the soil as well.
#2. The Slope of the Land
The slope of the land can play a big role in soil erosion. Properties with high hill slopes are a great example of this. These types of properties are prone to erosion because the slope prevents water from running off of your property. This leads to water saturating the area, eroding the soil as it does so.
There are a few farming practices that contribute to soil erosion, but tilling is probably the biggest culprit. Tilling can actually reduce the levels of organic materials in the soil, and it breaks up the soil and softens its structure, which makes it more prone to erosion by water or rain.
Wind, like water runoff, is a major cause of soil erosion and the reduction of soil quality. This is especially true if the soil’s structure has already been loosened by water, tilling or another source. If the wind is light, it probably won’t do a huge amount of damage to your soil. But, if your soil is light or sandy, there’s a higher chance of erosion due to the wind.
#5. Not Enough Vegetation
Although some farming practices leave the soil prone to erosion, the vegetation itself actually helps to prevent erosion. The opposite is also true, though. If there isn’t enough vegetation, the structure of the soil cannot be maintained effectively, which increases the risk of erosion.
Do you have a soil erosion problem on your farm?
Soil erosion can reduce your crop yields, increase your production costs, destroy the structure of your soil and cause many other problems for your farm. But, before you take steps to reduce and prevent soil erosion, how do you know if it’s a problem for your farm? Here are a few signs to watch out for that indicate soil erosion on your farm:
- Bald Spots – Are there certain patches on your land where there are no trees or greenery growing? If so, there’s a strong chance that you’re dealing with erosion. Watch out for a buildup of soil below or around these areas.
- Exposed Roots – If the soil has been eroded by strong water runoff, it might leave you with roots visibly exposed through the soil. If these roots wouldn’t be otherwise visible, it’s a sign that you have a severe erosion problem on your hands, and that you should take steps to reduce the damage as quickly as you can.
- Changes to Landscape – There are many different things below the surface of the soil, and erosion clears the way to bring these things to the surface. The most common things that are pulled to the surface from erosion are rocks. However, if you’ve noticed any unplanned changes to your landscape, erosion may be the culprit.
Let us help you prevent the expensive problems caused by erosion.
Now that you understand what causes soil erosion and how to spot the signs of erosion on your farm, it’s time to take the appropriate steps to reduce the damage caused by erosion and to learn how to control and prevent it. We’ll be going over a few tips in our next blog, so make sure that you stay tuned to learn more.
In the meantime, if you’d like to say goodbye to soil erosion and the damage it can cause for good, contact the agricultural development team at AGPROfessionals in Greeley today. Our agricultural consultants can help you put a stop to any existing damage from soil erosion, as well as how to control soil erosion in the future. Contact us today to get started.