H. Allen Childress
February 13, 2013 EROSION CONSERVATION
There are three major causes of soil erosion Overcultivation, Overgrazing, and Deforestation. Each one of these environmental events have a major impact on our soils and how soils decline in nutrient value supporting our ecosystem. The good thing is that each of these causes of erosion can be corrected to create a more sustainable soil structure.
Overcultivation is the practice of repeatedly cultivating and growing crops more rapidly than the soil can regenerate, leading to a decline in soil quality and productivity. Preparation in growing a crop and after the harvest of a crop, the soil is left exposed to erosion. Soil erosion occurs when topsoil is removed by tilling or after a crop has been harvested especially if there is low rainfall and exposure to wind. Once the subsurface is exposed, it can be easily removed which changes the nutrient value to that particular area of soil. (By Jack S. Waverly, 1999-2013)
The loss of protective vegetation through overgrazing and plowing makes soil vulnerable to being swept away by wind and water. The key impacts of overgrazing are loss of biodiversity “The variability among living organisms and the ecological complexes of which they are part” (Boorse, 2011), The most common practices that produce overgrazing are: (a) excessive animal density on the land; (b) lack of rotation or residence time of grazers on a sub-plot of the landscape unit; (c) grazing at inappropriate times relative to the flora productivity cycle. (Hogan, 2012).
Deforestation is when Earth’s forests are cleared on a massive scale; this can cause damage to the quality of the land. Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area and are cut down for many reasons, but most of them are related to money or to people’s need to provide for their families. Agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to deforestation in which farmers cut forests to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock. Often many small farmers will each clear a few acres to feed their families by cutting down trees and burning them in a process known as “slash and burn” agriculture. Deforestation will continue to have enormous effects on the environment. The most dramatic impact is a loss of habitat for millions of species. Seventy percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes. (Deforestation , 1996-2013)
Overcultivation can be corrected by using the “No-Till” method that permits a continuous cropping cycle, this is when freshly cropped fields are immediately treated with herbicide and then a special tractor then replants new seeds and fertilizers into the soil thus using the previous dead weeds and mulch as the ground cover. (Wright, 2011)
Overgrazing can be corrected by designating areas for grazing as well as rotating livestock to different foraging lands to allow the previous grazed land to regenerate new plant life. Also requiring better land management among farmers so they do not clear out to much land and overstock their cattle, sheep and other grazing livestock in which the Federal Government has a program through the “NRCS” (The Conservation Stewardship Program). This provides information and support to ranchers who own their land to burn unwanted woody plants and reseed the