Short Communication - Journal of Agricultural Science and Botany (2021) Volume 5, Issue 11
Soil erosion threatens food production.
Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Biotechnology at Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Al-Baha University, Saudi Arabia
- *Corresponding Author:
- Tarek Kapiel
Department of Plant Biotechnology at Biology Faculty of Sciences Al-Baha University Saudi Arabia
E-mail: [email protected]
Accepted Date: November 14, 2021
Citation: Kapiel T. Soil erosion threatens food production. J Agric Sci Bot. 2021;5(11): 080.
Erosion removes soil from land surfaces, reducing theproductivity of all natural ecosystems, including agricultural,forest, and pasture ecosystems . Soil erosion, water availability,climate change due to fossil fuel usage, eutrophication of inlandand coastal marine bodies of water, and biodiversity loss areamong the world's most pressing environmental issues.
Malnutrition affects about 66 percent of the world's population, the highest proportion of malnourished people ever(malnutrition: defective nutrition caused by insufficientor unbalanced nutritional intake or poor digestion or useof nutrients) . More food will be required as the globalpopulation exceeds seven billion people and is anticipated toreach 9.3 billion by 2050 . Consider that more than 99.7% ofhuman food (calories) is produced on land , while less than0.3 percent is produced in marine and aquatic ecosystems. Theproductivity and quality of all agricultural soils are essential formaintaining and growing the world's food supply.
Over many years, human-induced soil erosion and accompanyingdamage to all agricultural land has resulted in the abandonmentof important agricultural land and a reduction in productivityof the remaining land, which is somewhat compensated bythe injection of nitrogen and phosphate fertilisers . The lossof agriculture due to soil erosion frequently necessitates thedevelopment of new cropland from forestland and pastureland,as well as the application of nitrogen and phosphate fertilisers tothese new croplands . Soil erosion also reduces the diversityof plants, animals, and soil microorganisms, which is important.
When soil is exposed to raindrops or wind energy, erosionhappens. With around 1000 mm of rainfall, raindrops hitting ahectare of land in the New York State region of the United Statesgive the energy equivalent of 60,000 kcal (250 106 joules) peryear . The energy in eight litres of gasoline is around 60,000kcal. Raindrops hitting soil loosen the soil particles, and even a2% slope causes the earth to start moving downward. The mostcommon type of erosion is sheet erosion . The impact of soilerosion is amplified on any sloping land, because as the watertravels downhill into valleys and streams, more of the surfacesoil is swept away with each degree of slope.
Wind energy has the ability to dislodge and move surface soilparticles over large distances. Wind erosion in Kansas duringthe winter of 1995–1996 was a striking illustration of this, asit was relatively dry and windy. Around 65 t/ha of soil was lostfrom this productive cropland at the time. The wind is powerfulenough to push dirt particles thousands of kilometres. This isdemonstrated by NASA's photograph of a sand storm beingblown from Africa to South and North America.
The ease with which soil can be eroded is influenced by itsstructure. The most easily eroded soils have a medium to finetexture, low organic matter concentration, and poor structuraldevelopment . These soils typically have low waterinfiltration rates, resulting in high rates of water erosion andbeing easily displaced by wind energy.
The function of vegetative cover
Because rain drop and wind energy are dispersed by the biomasslayer and the topsoil is held together by the biomass, land areascovered by plant biomass, living or dead, are more resistantto wind and water soil erosion and experience comparativelyless erosion . In Utah and Montana, for example, erosionrates increased 200-fold when the amount of ground coverplummeted from 100 percent to less than 1% . To preventmajor soil erosion and landslides in wooded areas, a minimumof 60% forest cover is required. Soil erosion is a result of thevast clearing of forests for crops and grazing.
The topography of a landscape, as well as the amount of rainfalland/or wind exposure, all affect the land's susceptibility to soilerosion. Soil erosion rates as high as 400 t/ha/year have beenobserved in the Philippines, where more than 58 percent ofthe land has a slope greater than 11 percent, and in Jamaica,where 52 percent of the land has a slope greater than 20 percent. The rate of erosion is particularly high on marginal andhilly lands that have been converted from woods to agriculture.Furthermore, in a desert part of India, soil erosion rates as highas 5600 t/ha/year have been documented under arid conditionswith moderately strong winds. Even in a developed country likethe United States, where there is less of a need to use croplandswith steeper slopes, erosion losses averaged 13 tonnes perhectare per year in 2007. Individual storm losses of 20–40 tons/ha, which may occur every two or three years, are measuredregularly in Europe, with losses of more than 100 tons/ha inextreme events, in a developed region such as Europe.
Other soil disturbances
Despite the fact that agriculture is responsible for almost threequartersof global soil erosion, erosion happens wheneverhumans remove the vegetative cover. This difficulty can be seenin the development of roadways, parking lots, and buildings.Although the pace of soil erosion at building sites might beextremely high, the erosion only lasts a short time. Erosiondecreases as the land surface is sown with grass or covered withother vegetation.
Natural habitats are also affected by erosion. This is particularlynoticeable along stream banks, where erosion happens naturally as a result of the forceful action of the nearby rushing water.When a stream cuts through adjacent land, increased soil losses(30 percent or more) occur on steep surfaces. Stream bankserode even on relatively flat soil with only a 2% slope aftersevere rains and flooding.
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