Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Where has all the soil gone? Focusing on soil loss important to researchers

Date:
June 18, 2014
Source:
American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA)
Summary:
During these times of high drought and potential dust storms (or torrential rain and flash flooding), focusing on soil loss is important. Soil erosion is expensive. It costs the United States about $44 billion per year. Preventing erosion means taking care of the soil. That means protecting it with mulch and plants, not plowing on steep slopes, and maximizing the amount of water that enters the soil while minimizing the water that runs over the soil

This concrete post was driven to bedrock in 1924 in the Everglades by University of Florida staff. The soil has subsided more than 6 feet in 90 years. Luckily, the rate of soil loss has been cut in 1/2 due to best management practices.
Credit: Ramesh Reddy, University of Florida

You may hear the phrase: "We are losing our soil." Sounds serious…but how do we lose soil? Nick Comerford, a member of the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) and professor at the University of Florida, provides the answer.

Related Articles


Soil erosion is the movement of soil by wind or water, and it's through erosion that soil is "lost." If it is an organic soil, we also lose it by subsidence which happens when an organic soil is drained and its organic matter decomposes.

We lose about 1.7 billion tons of soil per year from just our cropland. That is a lot, but it's better than it used to be. Over the past 25 years we have reduced soil erosion by over 40%, mainly by conservation practices such as conservation tillage, terracing, cover crops, and grass waterways. It can take roughly 500 to 1000 years to form one inch of soil, depending on the climate and the material from which soil forms.

With that in mind it is not hard to see that soil is a non-renewable resource and worth protecting. Since the soil is the source of water and nutrients for plants as well as a bioreactor to purify and filter water, it is crucial to our quality of life.

Soil erosion occurs when the soil is not protected from the elements. Remove the plants and mulch from mineral soil and things start to happen. Raindrops can break apart the soil making it easier to move it by wind and water. The water's ability to enter the soil is reduced and more water now can flow over the top of the soil. Unfortunately, water is powerful and can carry away soil particles if it flows overland. Since water flows downhill, that's where the soil goes once water erosion begins.

Where does the soil end up? It might end up at the bottom of a hill, or it might end up in a river or stream or in the ocean, or it might end up in a reservoir. If the soil ends up in reservoir, it limits the space for water and has to be removed by a very expensive process called dredging. If the soil dries out while it is unprotected, then wind can pick it up and move it downwind.

Organic soils can be drained. When drained, they decompose and this is called subsidence. In the Everglades area of Florida where soils have been drained for agriculture, organic soils have lost as much as five feet or more of their organic matter. Organic soils are preserved by not draining them. Letting them stay saturated with water allows them to continue to build over time.

Soil erosion is expensive. It costs the United States about $44 billion per year. Preventing erosion means taking care of the soil. That means protecting it with mulch and plants, not plowing on steep slopes, and maximizing the amount of water that enters the soil while minimizing the water that runs over the soil.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA). "Where has all the soil gone? Focusing on soil loss important to researchers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140618163922.htm>.
American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA). (2014, June 18). Where has all the soil gone? Focusing on soil loss important to researchers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140618163922.htm
American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA). "Where has all the soil gone? Focusing on soil loss important to researchers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140618163922.htm (accessed March 4, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Buzz60 (Mar. 4, 2015) The Australian Museum has taken in its fourth-ever goblin shark, a rare fish with an electricity-sensing snout and &apos;alien-like&apos; jaw. Mike Janela (@mikejanela) takes a look. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Hormone Could Protect Against Diabetes And Weight Gain

New Hormone Could Protect Against Diabetes And Weight Gain

Newsy (Mar. 4, 2015) A newly discovered hormone mimics the effects of exercise, protecting against diabetes and weight gain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prince William Calls for Unified Effort Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

Prince William Calls for Unified Effort Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Mar. 4, 2015) Britain&apos;s Prince William pledges to unite against illegal wildlife trade on the final day of his visit to China. Rough cut - no reporter narration Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins