Over one billion tons of topsoil are lost every year due to erosion. According to the Department of Agriculture in the United States, soil erosion is a major disaster for agricultural development.
Soil erosion does not only take away precious topsoil but also causes pollution in waterways, landslide, and an increased flooding risk. This urgently calls for erosion control.
Erosion control is the exercise of preventing water or wind erosion in the land, construction, coastal areas, and agricultural areas. Effective erosion controls can help avert a surface runoff, which in turn prevents soil loss, water pollution, and wildlife habitat loss.
15 Wonderful Methods to Control Erosion
What control methods can you use to prevent soil erosion on your projects? Below are 15 wonderful methods that you can use to get you started.
1. Planting Vegetation
This method involves planting crops with deep roots that can hold the soil in place. This is particularly important in areas that are more susceptible to erosion such as streams, hillsides and along rivers.
Vegetative barriers impede the flow of water due to their thick stems that are densely concentrated. These barriers spread the water runoff to slowly flow through them without erosion.
Plants that are suitable for erosion control are deep-rooted native plants, such as wildflowers, woody perennials, and native prairie grasses.
2. Contour Farming
Preparing and cultivating on slopes can be challenging and can easily lead to soil erosion. However, contour farming technique, where farmers plant across a slope along the contour lines can salvage the situation.
This farming system serves to conserve rainwater and reduce soil loss from surface erosion. These objectives can be achieved by means of crop rows, wheel tracks across slopes and furrows. Hence, acting as reservoirs to hold rainwater.
3. Applying Mulches
In this method, mulch materials are put down to cover the bare soil and keep it from being washed away.
Mulching is essentially used to offer erosion control in the initial stages of growing seedlings or shrubs. Moreover, mulch conserves moisture and modifies soil temperature to reduce the fluctuation of both.
Wood mulch can be suitable in gardens and landscapes while organic mulches can serve to feed and protect your garden in the spring and in the fall.
4. Avoiding Overgrazing
Grazing too many animals in the same place over a long period of time can contribute to a poor stand of vegetation. Vegetation in that condition leave soils exposed to the erosive force of water runoff.
You can significantly minimize these risks by employing proper pasture management practices and sustainable grazing. For instance, rotational grazing and moving livestock through a number of paddocks can reduce erosion, improve forage quality and allow pasture plant recovery.
Restoration of a degraded ecosystem and protection of the existing ones ensures sufficient soil erosion control. A recent study shows that a properly planted and maintained tree reduces erosion by 75 percent.
Additionally, the removal of forest cover increases the risk of earth flow, which is initiated by a lack of forest canopy and a dense network of interweaved roots in the subsoil.
Reforestation helps to successfully stabilize actively eroding gullies, earth flows, and shallow landslides.
6. Use Plastic Sheeting
This practice involves the placement of plastic covers, geotextiles, erosion control blankets, and mats to keep soil from erosion by water or wind. They primarily help newly planted crops to take root in slopes with flowing water.
However, plastic sheeting can only be effective in small erodible areas. Applying it in large areas can cause damage when the water runs off the cover.
7. Use of Silt Fencing
Also known as filter sock. It is commonly used as a temporary barrier to control sediments. Compost silt fencing has three-dimensional filters that intercept runoff, reduce its speed and retain sediment-laden runoff.
If using filter sock, ensure appropriate installation for your fence to be effective. It is improper to install it across waterways, ditches or places with concentrated water flow. This is because they cannot hold higher water pressure.
8. Applying Terraseeding Method
This is an innovative method of spreading mixed composted soil with seed in a large complex area. Terraseeding allows a complete cover of the place with the right quantity of soil. With the seed mixed, you have little chance for the seed disruption from ground contact.
9. Improving Drainage
This involves making a channel that allows the water to flow through it to prevent the spread of water all over the land.
All structures should have pipes or gutters that can effectively drain water out of your yard into a water collection system. Places with heavy water runoff may need an installation of underground perforated drainage pipes.
10. Avoiding Soil Compaction
When machine, animals or people continuously walk over soil, they press it, consolidating the soil into a hard layer. Since there will be less space between the compact soil particles, water will have a hard time draining through, hence carrying topsoil downhill.
It is necessary to make a way on paving stones or cleared pathways rather than trampling the soil, more so when it is wet. Adding manure or compost can also help you by attracting worms, which breaks the soil clumps.
Matting is a material available that can be used to prevent eroding dirt, which can be applied on residential yards. It is a thick mat set down on the soil surface to soak up the elements. It is eco-friendly since it is composed of straw, wood and coconut fibers.
Matting does not impede plants growth and you can also cut it into any size that suits your need. Remember to replace biodegradable mats periodically.
12. Building Terraces
Terracing is commonly used to prevent erosion on a slope. In this technique, steep sections of a hill are leveled off into several flat areas, which allows the absorption of water. You can achieve greater results when you plant shrubs and flowers on the terraces
13. Embracing No-till Farming
From a soil viewpoint, the advantages of no-till farming far exceed those of tillage-based practices. No-till system enables the soil structure to remain intact and leave crop residue on the surface of the soil.
A good soil structure and cover increase the ability of the soil to infiltrate and absorb water, which eventually lowers soil erosion and runoff.
14. Laying Fiber Logs
Another alternative for controlling erosion on a steep slope is by putting down a series of rolled up logs made from fibrous substances. The logs serve to slow down running water and soak it into the soil. This prevents the water from carrying mud downhill.
Fiber logs also protect young seedlings from being washed away by running water.
15. Reducing Watering
Applying too much water on your farm during irrigation can speedily erode your farm topsoil. Use less water if possible or invest in a drip irrigation system. A drip system delivers a small amount of water at a time. Also, you can station underground drip lines to water the roots directly.
Does Deforestation Cause Soil Erosion?
One of the primary causes of soil erosion is deforestation. Trees do act as a support to the soil, more of a shelter from storm or rain. Because when deforestation happens, the trees are being cut down which makes the land to be exposed to being wiped away by storms. Deforestation releases significant amounts of carbon dioxide into the environment through burning or slashing, which induces soil erosion. Moreover, according to research, approximately ten million hectares are deforested each year.
The impact of deforestation causes widespread soil erosion which certainly affects the farmers & for them to cater to agricultural purposes. Because once the forests are cleared, the rivers do carry eroded soil downstream. Siltation raises river beds, thereby increasing the risk of flooding and adversely affecting the river. The increased level of sediment reduces fish hatch rates, which harms the fishery industry.
Furthermore, as the damaged particles reach the ocean, they can have an impact on coral reefs and the movement of coastal fisheries. Coral reefs play an essential role in sustaining coastline aquatic wildlife, and their loss would undoubtedly have an impact on the community. Apart from affecting the community, deforestation has the potential to deteriorate nearby roads and highways. Soil erosion is expensive because of the damage it causes to infrastructure and the fishery industry, which also occurs year after year in various locations.
Deforestation has been ongoing for decades, with those woods being used for fuel and lumber to establish residences. Other types of trees were removed to make way for agriculture and housing. While harvesting wood, bear in mind not to degrade the soil & minimizing environmental issues.
As previously discussed, the effects of deforestation have a significant impact on the soil because trees act as a shade to reduce the surface soil temperature, which further reduces evaporation. Nevertheless, small-scale tree removal exposes the soil to wash away, which loosens soil particles while eroding and increases runoff on the bare surface.
Other than deforestation, the following are major causes of soil erosion:
- Weather Conditions
Extreme weather conditions are a significant contributor to soil erosion. Because temperatures are rising all over the world, an even more vigorous water cycle is triggered, resulting in thunderstorms and increased rainfall. Topsoil has been wiped away more frequently as rainfall levels rise.
- Farming Practices
The land must have good soil to carry out agriculture. However, some farming practices, such as animal grazing and tillage, cause soil erosion.
Tillage is the process of preparing the land for growing crops, but there are machines involved to churn the ground and prepare it for seed planting.
Logging, like deforestation, involves the removal of trees while causing soil erosion. The roots of trees act to keep the soil together, while the leaves or branches form canopies. A significant amount of forest has been lost around the world due to logging activities, which not only cause topsoil erosion but also pollute rivers and lakes.