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Causes of Soil Erosion

Soil Erosion Causes

Although soil erosion is a natural occurrence on all


land, there are certain factors that call accelerate erosion making it more noticeable and
problematic. While there are many different factors that can cause soil erosion, most
can be broken down into two main categories:
1.
2.

Erosion by Water
Erosion by Wind
Looking for something to help prevent soil erosion? Check out our Soil Erosion Products
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Erosion by Water
Factors & Causes of Soil Erosion

Rainfall Intensity and Runoff: The impact of raindrops will break up the soil and
water build-up will create runoff, taking sediment with it.
Soil Erodibility: Based on the characteristics of each unique soil, it is more or
less susceptible to erosion. Recurring erosion is more typical for soil in areas that have
experienced erosion in the past.

Slope Gradient and Length: The steeper the slope, the greater amount of soil
can be lost. As the soil erodes downward, it increases the slope degree, which in turn,
creates further erosion.
Vegetation: Vegetative cover of plants or crop residues protect the soil from
raindrop impact and splash. The less vegetation cover, the more erosion can occur.

Effects of Soil Erosion


The loss of natural nutrients and possible fertilizers directly affect crop emergence,
growth, and yield. Seeds can be disturbed or removed and pesticides can be carried
off. The soil quality, structure, stability, and texture are also affected, which in turn
affect the holding capacity of the soil.
What is not often seen are the "off-site" effects. Eroded soil can inhibit the growth of
seeds, bury seedlings, contribute to road damage, and even contaminate water
sources and recreational areas.
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Erosion by Wind
Factors & Causes of Soil Erosion

Erodability of Soil: The finest particles are transported by the wind, while the
heavier particles are blown across the surface causing abrasion.
Soil Surface Roughness: Soil surfaces that are not rough offer little resistance
to wind erosion. Excess tillage can contribute to the breakdown of soil.
Climate: Soil moisture levels at the surface can become extremely low in times
of drought, increasing particles to be carried by the wind. Conversely, this effect can
occur in freezing climates as well.
Un-Sheltered Distance: The lack of windbreaks allows wind to transport
particles a farther distance, increasing abrasion and erosion.
Vegetative Cover: Lack of permanent vegetation creates loose, dry, and barren
soil that is perfect for wind transport.

Effects of Soil Erosion


Crops can be completely ruined, resulting in delay and reseeding, which is costly.
Plants could become sandblasted resulting in a decreased yield. Soil drifting depletes
fertility and continual drifting can change the texture of soil.