World Soil Day
December 5th 2019
The theme for this year’s World Soil Day is:
‘Stop Soil Erosion, Save Our Future!’
Why is soil important?
Soil is a vital part of the ecosystem. Not only does it serve as a nutrient generator and growing medium for vegetation, forests, plants and crops, but it also filters our water, maintains the earth’s CO2 levels and regulates the temperature of the earth's surface. It also houses billions of organisms and microorganisms that function to decompose organic matter.
Soil is a filtration system of the most advanced kind, filtering destructive contaminants away from the roots of plants allowing them to grow correctly. It provides a barrier of defense against pollutants and maintains the natural structure of the ecosystem.
What is soil erosion?
In the last 150 years, half of the topsoil on the earth’s surface has been lost. Soil erosion is a tricky problem to solve because it is a naturally occurring process that is caused when natural elements such as wind or water wash away the top layer of soil over time.
However, human interference such as tillage (farming activities) can accelerate and facilitate this process. While pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals do not directly cause soil erosion, they contaminate the soil and reduce its quality. This soil degradation kills important organisms and contributes to water pollution.
Soil erosion consists of three parts:
Detachment-when the topsoil is detached from the ground
Movement-the relocation of the topsoil to another area
Deposition-when the topsoil subsequently ends up after this process
What are the effects of soil erosion?
Firstly, soil erosion affects agricultural productivity; without a healthy supply of soil there will be a decreased production of crops. By extension, this leads to starvation.
Secondly, soil erosion causes the destabilisation of the ecosystem. Soil provides the habitat for important organisms to exist and thrive in. Without those organisms, soil biodiversity is under threat, which ultimately disrupts the natural filtering and defense processes needed to maintain a healthy ecosystem.
The bottom line is soil erosion causes environmental degradation.
What can we do to prevent soil erosion?
- The correct use of irrigation systems
- Planting vegetation establishes root systems that will help cement the soil in place
- Using geotextiles; woven, nonwoven or coir
- Using mulch-which will act as a barrier to stop immediate water damage
- Retaining walls-to prevent water run-off