December 11, 2019

Soil Erosion as a Crucial Factor to Consider in Farming

The awareness on causes, consequences, and preventive measures of soil degradation is crucial for farmers around the globe. The concept of soil degradation refers to the environmental processes that destroys soil structure, affects its fertility, and undermines the quality of water.

Soil endures physical, chemical, and biological changes depending on the factor that drives degradation. The key items that expedite degradation are as follows: water, wind, ice movement, and gravity.

There are numerous forms of soil degradation, but for farming activities, the most important ones include the following: soil erosion, salinization, and acidification. Due to rapid urbanization and overwhelming agricultural practices (tillage, the use of pesticides, and inappropriate irrigation practices), soil salinity and acidity levels increase to a point where the fields no longer possess the desired fertility for farming.

While these two types of degradation bring considerable threats for farmers, erosion is no less of a substantial threat to soil fertility. It is a process that removes the topsoil layers along with the fertility-rich nutrients. This is caused by wind and water, or as a result of tillage.

Soil Erosion: Definition and The Truth Behind its Main Causes

As mentioned above, water, wind, and field works such as tillage are the primary agents of soil erosion.

The term soil erosion covers a wide range of physical and chemical actions, such as the removal of soluble matters, chemical changes, disintegration by frost or by rapid changes of temperature, attrition by dust charged wind…

Moreover, with an ever-increasing rate of population, people significantly contribute to the occurrence of erosion by tillages, excessive deforestation, and industrial operations such as road construction that bring inevitable effects on yields.

Climate is one of the causes of erosion that occurs in the form of overwhelming precipitation. As a result of heavy rains, weakly-vegetated and poorly rooted areas are particularly vulnerable to rainfall flows, thus soil depletion is inevitable. Wind erosion takes place during wind gusts; it mainly possesses a substantial threat as the soil is dry and consequently sensitive to changes.

The Key Effects of Erosion for Farming

The development of erosion can take a different pace depending on the circumstances. Despite how rapidly it progresses, it affects land productivity, soil fertility, degrades water quality, and damages water drainage.

Moisture is known as an important factor for soil to be fruitful by farmers all over the world. Erosion, in turn, facilitates the process of groundwater pollution, and the stiffened structure of soil impedes the flow of water in deeper layers. The effect of poor drainage progresses erosion due to densely-packed soil and field productivity might be lost due to insufficient levels of soil moisture.

Another detrimental effect of erosion is the increased level of acids in soil as the biological structure is impaired. Once organic masses are thinned-out from the topsoil layers, the soil is no longer able to maintain an acceptable pH-level. PH values above or below the desired ranges undermine the ability of plants and intensive crops to grow.

Soil Erosion: Natural- or Industrial-related Issue?

Negligent agricultural activities such as tillage break the soil surface into small pieces. This issue has been exacerbated by the use of high-end technological equipment. It is interesting to note that tillage influences wind erosion by dehydrating the land resulting in finer pieces of soil that can be easily picked up by the wind.

Deforestation is another common practice that leads to soil erosion.

Trees help hold soil in place, so when they’re uprooted, winds and rains push the loose soil and rocks to streams and rivers, again resulting in unwanted sedimentation.

A similar effect occurs during industrial processes (e.g. building construction) and transportation infrastructural development that weakens the nearby agricultural lands.

Ways to Avoid the Effects

Bare soil can be easily exposed to different types of erosion. Therefore, one of the primary measures for farmers to take to prevent unwanted depletion is afforestation. Whether the region is a flat or sloped surface, it is recommended to plant trees, grass, and shrubs that protect the area from winds, washouts, and prevent acidification. Another key preventive measure is that of crop rotation that presupposes farmers never let the soil lay bare.

Speaking of water erosion, it can be mainly prevented by reducing tillage on fields that causes excessive soil compaction. A farmer can also build artificial water channels, called flumes, that have a function similar to drainage. Other approaches to save the land from excessive flooding involve building dams and embankments.

Soil Erosion in Crop Monitoring

Crop Monitoring offers an opportunity to get the most updated information about vegetation levels, compare changes in vegetation values during the last 5 years based on historical data, and monitor soil degradation tendencies. As a result of a variety of functions presented in Crop Monitoring, farmers save resources, time, and money, especially for large-scale fields. The decisions concerning crop dates, types, fertilizers, and other predictions become much easier to make.

In addition to the detailed data that is available in Crop Monitoring, the platform is also easy to use. You simply save the field, apply zoning, and wait for email notifications regarding NDVI fluctuations as soon as new images for your field are added. For farmers, the opportunity to obtain sufficient information on the aforementioned points has never been easier and remote sensing is a highly effective tool to maintain your fields’ productivity all-year-round.

Check Сrop Monitoring’s step-by-step user guide to find detailed instructions on how to work with the system, or feel free to email us at support@eos.com

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