Soil erosion

washing or blowing away of the top layer of soil

Soil erosion is the washing or blowing away (by water or wind) of the top layer of soil (dirt). This is a serious problem for farmers. If the soil has eroded, the crops that make food will not grow very well.

Eroded pasture, Australia
Gravity erosion along the banks of a wadi, Makhtesh Ramon, Israel
A dust storm; Spearman, Texas, April 14, 1935

Soil erosion was a big problem in the Midwestern United States in the 1930s dust bowl.

Erosion also leaves large sinkholes in the ground, which can weaken buildings and even cause them to collapse. Urban areas are usually protected from soil erosion, so not many buildings collapse from erosion.

Steps for conserving soil from eroding


Soil erosion can be conserved in several ways:

  • A wind break is a line of plants that are planted to stop or slow the wind. A thick row of bushes or shrubs planted next to a field of crops can stop the wind from blowing the soil away. This method also helps against water erosion, as the soil gets caught up against the roots of the bushes, rather than washing away.
  • Terraces are level places that have been made on hill sides. They are used for Terrace farming.
  • If the crops are growing on a slope, then one should plant them in contour lines that run across the slope, rather than up and down. So, if the slope goes downhill to the south, then the plants should be in rows that run from east to west.
  • Groynes (wooden planks) along the beaches can resist erosion, or sea walls against cliffs can protect the cliffs.