Soil Erosion and Conservation

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Information about Soil Erosion and Conservation
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Published on March 14, 2014

Author: AislingMOConnor

Source: slideshare.net

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Soil Erosion and Conservation
Studied as part of the Geoecology option at Leaving Certificate Higher Level Geography in Ireland.

Soil Erosion and Conservation Page 41 - Geoecology

Soil Erosion and Conservation Exam Brief: Typical Exam Questions Discuss how human activities can accelerate soil erosion.(2009) Examine how overcropping/overgrazing and desertification can affect soils. (2007) Examine two ways in which human activities have impacted on soils. (2010) Examine the causes of soil erosion and outline methods used to prevent it. (Sample paper) See above – the causes of soil erosion are more important than the solutions – going by past exam papers.

Soil Erosion Soil is a fragile resource. Most soil erosion is caused by natural processes such as water flowing downhill and by the wind.

Soil Erosion is caused by: Natural Processes • Water flowing downhill • Wind Human Activities • Overcropping • Overgrazing • Deforestation

Problems caused by soil erosion: 1. Loss of valuable topsoil. 2. Burying valuable topsoil. 3. Damage to fields. 4. Plant productivity decline. 5. Desertification.

Case Study: SoilErosionand Desertificationin the Sahel The Sahel stretches for 5,400km across Africa from the Atlantic Ocean in the West to the Red Sea in the East. It includes countries such as Mali, Nigeria and Ethiopia.

Case Study: SoilErosionand Desertificationin the Sahel • Soil erosion (caused by overgrazing, overcropping and deforestation) is leading to desertification in the Sahel region of Africa. • Increased drought in the Sahel region as a result of climate change is also causing soil erosion and desertification.

Video Clip • 2009 – BBC News Report about the famine affecting Ethiopia.

Overgrazing • When farmers allow too many animals to graze an area of land. • This damages the soil structure and removes plant cover, allowing the soil to blow away.

Overcropping • When land is continuously farmed, the nutrients are drained from the soil which destroys soil structure and makes it less fertile.

Deforestation • Large areas of forest are cut down leaving bare landscape. Tree and plant roots prevent soil erosion. When they are removed the soil dries out due to constant exposure to the sun and is easily blown or washed away.

Climate Change • Global warming has caused a rise in the temperature of the atmosphere in the Sahel region. • As a result the air can hold more water vapour and rain is less likely to occur. “The rain doesn’t come on time anymore. After we plant, the rain stops just as our crops start to grow. And it begins to rain after the crops have already been ruined.” - Quote from an Ethiopian farmer.

Methods of Conservation: Windbreaks / Shelter Belts Barriers formed by trees and plants with many leaves.

Methods of Conservation: Contour / Strip Ploughing The tractor operator follows the contours of the hillside. The furrows thrown up by the plough (going in different directions) stop the flow of water and encourage percolation in the soil.

Methods of Conservation: Stubble Planting • The old stubble of harvested crops is not ploughed back into the soil (as usually is done). • Instead the stubble is left in place in order to reduce wind and water erosion while the new crop is growing.

Methods of Conservation: Terraces • Large steps cut into a hillside. • This reduces slope length and steepness to limit the energy of running water and its ability to carry soil away.

Methods of Conservation: Stone Walls / Bunds • Low walls placed along the contour of a hill. • These walls capture water allowing it to filter into the soil rather than run off downhill.

Methods of Conservation: Reduce ploughing in dry/windy weather •Ploughing in dry and windy weather increases the risk of wind erosion.

Homework: Exam Question: 2009 Q 17 ‘Discuss how human activities can accelerate soil erosion’ (80 marks). Marking Scheme: And answer Question 8 on pg 50 __________________________________________________________________

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