Intensive tillageleads to soil erosion. Soil erosion is described as the detachment and movementof soil particles from point of origination through the action of water andwind. Wind erosion is the more visible, though water erosion is the mostdevastating. The loss of natural nutrients andpossible fertilizers directly affect crop emergence, and growth. Seeds can be disturbed or removedand pesticides can be carried off.
This means fewer nutrients for plants leading to reduced yields. The soil quality, structure, stability, and texture are also affected,which in turn affect the holdingcapacity of the soil referred to water infiltration rate. This is due to the aggregate break downand a decrease in soil organic matter. Soil water erosion has greatenvironmental implications as eroded soils caninhibit the growth of seeds, bury seedlings, contribute to road damage, and even contaminate water sources.
Soil is one of the mostimportant natural resources farmers have. Without soil farmers cannot farm. Aswith other important resources it is vital that they are protected or improvedfor the benefit and sustainability of future generations. Once soil leaves afarmers field it is gone forever.
As soil erodes from farmer’s fields, the mostvaluable part of the soil (the top soil) is lost. The top soil typicallyhas more organic matter and more plant nutrients than the soil deeper in thesoil profile. Associated with the organic matter are billions of soilmicro-organisms. Micro-organisms are the “engine” that keeps a soil alive andproductive.
Numerous scientific studies have shown that a soil with fewermicro-organisms or a lower diversity of micro-organisms is less productive thansoils with a good balance. Erosion can be made more severe due to man’sinfluences. Understanding the factors that influence soil erosion help us tounderstand things we can do to reduce or even reverse soil erosion processes.