What is Erosion of Soil?
Various forms of soil degradation such as compaction, salinity, loss of nutrients and soil acidity render serious damage to fertile soil. Soil erosion, which is another type of soil degradation, occurs naturally on all land. There are several layers of soil, but soil erosion occurs when the topmost layer of the soil (the fertile soil) is removed by the action of flowing water and wind. The erosion of soil can be explained as the process of detachment of the topmost layer of soil due to rainfall and overland water flow. One of the major drivers of severe soil erosion is water runoff—excess water from snowmelts and other sources that flow over the surface.
Soil erosion is a natural process occurring for some 400 million years, ever since the first soil was formed by the first terrestrial plants. Even before the formation of the first soil, rocks were moved off our planet’s surface by natural processes.
The geological or ‘background’ soil erosion is basically a slow and natural process, where soil gets removed roughly at the same rate as it is formed. Recently, however, the major problem faced is the “accelerated" soil erosion, i.e. removal of topsoil at a much faster rate than geological soil erosion.
Accelerated soil erosion is the result of unwise human activities such as overgrazing and wrong cultivation techniques. Natural reasons for accelerated erosion include windstorms and erosive rainfall. Due to windstorms and other natural disasters, the uppermost layer of the soil is detached and transported to a far-off place. Using sophisticated agricultural equipment on agricultural land is also one of the key causes of moving soil down-slope.