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What Causes Soil Erosion and How to Prevent It
Soil erosion is something that has become a significant issue for many people across the United States. This is especially true for farmers whose livelihoods depend on the quality of their soil and what they can grow on it. This has led to a variety of different measures being created to help minimize or reverse its impact. Using native grass seed from a company like Granite Seed has many benefits for the land. While many people may know that erosion is an issue, some might not know what causes soil erosion, as well as what measures they can take to prevent it. However, this doesn’t need to be the case.
What Causes Soil Erosion?
Soil erosion is when the layer of topsoil in an area gradually wears away, taking much-needed nutrients and organic matter with it. This is what makes it such a significant issue for many farmers across the country. This is typically caused by a variety of different causes, either individually or combined. There are three main causes of soil erosion in the United States, with the first being wind. This is often called soil drifting, as it moves much of the topsoil from one area to another over time. Wind erosion is typically only an issue in flat land with a drier climate, and it normally caused by high-velocity winds.
Water is another notable way that soil can be eroded, although this is in two different ways. The first of these is caused by rain, which removes many of the nutrients in the top layer of soil. Secondly, this can be caused by poor surface drainage that can cause the area to become bog-like over time. Tillage is the last major cause of soil erosion, as it can often drag soil downhill, leaving much of the higher part of the hill unsuitable for farming over time. However, much of this can be affected by the slope of the hill, as well as the speed and depth of the spillage.
How To Prevent Soil Erosion
With each of the above in mind, there can be a few notable ways to prevent soil erosion. Perhaps the most notable of these is crop rotation, especially when using a variety of high-residue crops. These can include the likes of corn, hay, and small grain. These primarily work by protecting the topsoil through the residue they leave behind, which results in the soil being much more difficult to remove through erosion. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to grow other crops, however. Instead, you should variate which crops you grow each season, with high-residue crops being rotated in every season or two.
Conservation tillage has also been shown to have quite an effect on preventing erosion. This is primarily because traditional tillage leaves topsoil flat and more exposed to erosion. There are a few different conservation tillage methods to choose between, with the most notable being disking, strip rotary tillage, chiseling and no-till planting. These primarily work through leaving more crop residue in the soil, which makes the soil less likely to be eroded.
Grass waterways have been increasingly more effective in preventing this erosion of soil. This is primarily because it ensures that there’s much better drainage from the soil. Planting grass in areas of concentrated water flow may be able to prevent runoff that often results in erosion. While this isn’t something that will be an option for every farmer, it’s something that you should choose whenever it’s an option.
Terrace farming is a practice that’s started to become popular in the past few decades. This is where farmers plant their crops on hills using flat areas that are cut into the hillside. This significantly reduces the amount of erosion that can be caused by tillage and can have quite an impact on drainage levels. There can be a number of other ways to prevent erosion, each of which can have considerable benefits. These can include the likes of:
- Strip Farming;
- Contour Farming, and;
- Diversion Structures.
As your soil is often one of the most vital parts of running your land, you should ensure that you take adequate care of it. By using the methods mentioned above, you’ll be able to ensure that your topsoil is as protected as possible from erosion. As one of your biggest assets, it can be well worth the investment.