Soil Erosion: A worrisome threat to agricultural productivity

Every year, more than 45 billion tons of soil is lost to erosion all over the world. As over 90 per cent of food is cultivated in soil, the health and availability of good-quality soil directly affects the quality and quantity of the food production.

While natural factors such as wind and rain will always cause some erosion, this is exacerbated by unsuitable agricultural practices, including overgrazing, deforestation and climate change.

What is soil erosion?

Soil erosion is a natural process that displaces the soil’s upper layer that is rich in nutrients needed for the growth of plants.

Which factors accelerate soil erosion?

Soil erosion, the most common type of land degradation, is accelerated by anthropogenic factors, such as removing the natural vegetation that protects the lands’ surface.

Soil erosion is particularly unfavorable for countries in tropical, subtropical and arid climate zones.

It is most prevalent in Africa as soil erosion affects nearly 65% of cropland, followed by Latin America (51%) and Asia (38%).

Importance of Healthy Soils

Healthy soils are necessary for healthy ecosystem as they provide food, clean water and raw materials.

However, factors such as acidification, unscientific cropping patterns and loss of biodiversity are some of the threats that soils are presently facing.

Effects of Soil Erosion

• Removing the highly fertile topsoil, soil erosion endangers soil health.

• It not only decreases agri-productivity, and degrades ecosystem functions, but also amplifies hydrogeological risk like landslides or floods.

• Soil erosion can also cause significant losses in biodiversity, damage to urban and rural infrastructure and, in extreme cases, lead to displacement of human populations.

Need of the Hour

From educating the youth on this global issue to creating awareness, preventing soil erosion is indispensable to ensure a food secure future.