5 Negative Effects of Soil Erosion


Our soil is one part of the fragile skin that protects our planet and anchors all life to it. On its own, soil is a unique and complex ecosystem that provides us access to the resources we need to sustain life. When soil erosion occurs, we lose access to that resource. That is just one of the negative effects of soil erosion.

Here are some more of the negative effects that must be considered when looking at this topic.

1. It creates the circumstances for desertification.

Desertification is the process of drought and ongoing arid conditions to alter the shape of the soil landscape. Sometimes desertification occurs through the natural evolution process of our planet. Our own activities can also exploit this fragile resource. The end result is a large economic cost for those who face growing deserts and an overall loss of top soil.

2. It reduces the amount of viable cropland.

Any land that can be used to grow crops is referred to as “arable” land. Unfortunately, many of our modern crop growing technologies also lead to a loss of top soil and the destruction of soil characteristics we need to grow food products. In just the last 150 years, we have lost 50% of the top soil on our planet.

3. It clogs up our sanitation systems.

When soil erodes, it must go somewhere. For many urban communities, that means entering the sanitation system. Even with screening, grinding, and other purification processes in place for soil, it can still build up over time and clog up the system. The sedimentation with sewer systems can cause extensive damage if not addressed if a large storm surge happens to come through.

4. It pollutes our waterways.

The soil which erodes from our fields will also settle into our rivers, lakes, and streams. If enough soil gets into the water, it can potentially damage a freshwater habitat. As a consequence of this, various marine life become directly affected and local populations may unexpectedly become lower. This can have a dramatic impact on communities which depend on marine life for their standard of living.

5. It creates the potential for more flooding.

When soil erodes from forests, fields, and other landscapes, then there is less available material to soak up water when it arrives. With less capacity to absorb water, flooding becomes more common. Even when methods are employed to improve the overall water-holding capacity of local soils, a complete restoration of its ability may not be possible. This means the chances for increased flooding increase on a permanent basis.

One of the easiest ways we can reduce the negative effects of soil erosion is to reduce deforestation. By managing our forests in a sustainable way, we can maintain the integrity of our fragile skin so that life can continue to thrive. Protecting our forests is also one of the most effective ways to combat desertification.

There are steps we can take, but we must be willing to take them for these efforts to be successful.