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Soil Degradation
Nolan Seamster

What is Soil Degradation?


The current rate of soil degradation
threatens the capacity to meet the needs of future
generations. Crops contain the nutrients we need
but when there is no nutrients in the soil to grow
plants we cannot receive the nutrients we need to
survive which is a problem we need to fix. Soil
Degradation is when the land is overworked and the
soil begins to lose its nutrients, this happens over
thousands of years through erosion, compaction,
and overworking of the land such as overgrazing
and over growing. Soil Degradation can have a
major impact on the community it is affecting. In this
essay I will be talking about what soil degradation
is, how it affects the world, and what we can do to
help reduce the amount of soil degradation.
What is the problem/ topic?
When soil is degraded over many years it
becomes unhealthy and cannot provide nutrients.
Degraded soils have a health status such, that they
do not provide the normal goods and services of the
particular soil in its ecosystem (FAOUN, 2016).
When soil cannot provide the right amount of
nutrients to grow
crops, animals don't
have any vegetation
to eat which means
they cannot give
back any nutrients to
the soil such as
manure. According
to another source,
there are different ways in which soil can be
degraded such as, overgrazing, agricultural
activities, deforestation, and industrialization (UM,
2010). This shows that a lot of issues are made by
humans rather than the environment. When these

issues are made we need to have a way in which


we can keep soil healthy so it doesnt lose the
nutrients to grow crops that we and the animals
need. Therefore, soil degradation not only impacts
us but it also determines whether or not the
environment receives the nutrients that is needed to
keep vegetation healthy.
What are the causing issues?
When
it
comes to causing
issues
of
soil
degradation there
are many different
ways in which it is
caused.
Soil
degradation can be
caused
by
agricultural
management which
degrades the soil because the farmers plant crops
that take the nutrients, then they raise livestock that
eat the plants which makes it harder for the soil to
grow new ones because it is already lacking the
nutrients needed (L.R. Oldeman, 2001). This makes
it harder for the farmers to have nutrient filled crops
because the soil does not have enough nutrients to
make healthy crops. This means the animals do not
receive the proper amount of nutrients and are not
healthy. Another causing issue of soil degradation is
Erosion. Natural erosion by water and wind; the soil
becomes detached from the land and is moved
about, it can be made worse from extreme weather
events and poor quality soil. There is more erosion
risk when there is no vegetation cover (REE, 2016).
This makes it almost impossible to grow crops
because the land is completely shifted and all the

fibers are loose, which makes it hard for the roots to


find a source of nutrients.

What are the impacts on


the environment?
There are many
different ways in which
soil
degradation
can
impact the environment.
One way soil degradation
impacts the environment
is
by
clogging
and
polluting waterways. Soil
erodes from land as well
as pesticide/ fertilizers that
are
washed
into
waterways, which can
damage to freshwater
(WWF, 2016). This can
cause drinking water to be
unsafe and poisonous
because it can contain
pesticides
and
other
harmful chemicals. Another way soil degradation
can have an impact on the environment is
increased flooding. When there is increased
flooding the land is so soaked that it can't take any
more water so when more comes there is more
flooding (WWF, 2016). When this happens the land
is filled with water and this can damage houses and
many peoples farms. Therefore, some of the
environmental impacts cannot be stopped
especially one like flooding.
What are
communities?

the

impacts

on

global

When talking about soil degradation there


are many different impacts
on global communities. Soil
degradation has an effect on
a global scale. When soil
fibers are loose this can
cause landslides (REE,
2016). This shows that not
only local communities have
to worry but people all
around the world have to
worry as well. People should

tend their soil so it stays healthy and keeps all the


fiber in it. GLASOD was to let the people become
aware of the policy makers on the dangers from
inappropriate land and soil management (REE,
2016). This is good because it lets local people
know if they need to keep a better eye on their land
to make sure the soil does not degrade. Therefore,
there are many different things people can do in
order to keep soil fibrous and filled with nutrients.
What are the impacts on personal health?
There are many different aspects to soil
degradation such as
impacts
to
personal
health. Our amino acids
and nutrients in our body
come from plant life,
plants create our amino
acids
when
it
is
combined with sunlight,
water, and soils (UM, 2010). This means that the
nutrients we need in order to stay healthy and grow,
come from plants and the soil helps the plants grow
and contain the nutrients and if the soil does not
contain nutrients which means the plants become
less effective. Plants grown in grown in highly
degraded soil have less effect and cannot replenish
the ground with the proper nutrients (L.R. Oldeman,
2001). This means that people would not be able
live healthy lifestyle if the soil is not maintained
because the communities won't be able to get the
right amount of amino acids.
What are current solutions?
When it comes to solutions for solving soil
degradation there are not a lot of things people can
do but there are some. One of the few solutions is
the NDRS-Natural Resources conservation service.
Assists landowners with soil
conservation,
nutrient
management, and water
management (WWF, 2016).
This is good for farmers and
for people who dont even
know how soil affects their
daily life, but it can save soil
before it loses all its nutrients.
Shelterbelts are rows of trees
planted as a windbreak to

reduce soil erosion of agricultural land (WWF,


2016). These can be very useful because erosion
has one of the highest percentages of causing soil
degradation. When these are placed it blocks the
wind from blowing loose soil and taking all the
nutrients. Therefore, the NDRS should go to all of
the farms that are suffering from Soil Degradation.
What are new solutions?
Research shows that there are no new
discoveries in finding solutions for soil degradation.
The only way we can help prevent soil degradation
or keep it contained is by using the solutions we
have currently.
Conclusion
To conclude, soil degradation affects
everyone's life from the amino acids in our body to
landslides caused by erosion. Soil degradation may
sound like a light topic but when you look at the
reality of it, it can affect everyone and anything. We
can prevent it and lower the percentage of soil
degradation but we need to understand the
seriousness of this problem before we can do
anything.

References

FAOUN. (2016). FAO SOILS PORTAL. Retrieved from


http://www.fao.org/soils-portal/soil-degradation-restoration/en/

L.R. Oldeman. (2001). Impact of Soil Degradation: A Global Scenario. Retrieved from
http://isric.org/isric/webdocs/docs/ISRIC_Report_2000_01.pdf

REE. (2016). Soil Degradation. Retrieved from:


http://www.soils-scotland.gov.uk/about/degradation

UM. (2010). Land Degradation. Retrieved from


http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/land_deg/land_deg.html

WWF. (2016). Soil Erosion and Degradation. Retrieved from


http://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/soil-erosion-and-degradation
Photo References
[Impacts and causes of soil degradation]. Retrieved
www.environment.scotland.gov.uk

[Importance of soil]. Retrieved from


http://www.csrplus.com/eco_verm/soil_equation.gif

[Soil contamination through erosion]. Retrieved from


http://blogs.egu.eu/geolog/files/2014/04/JR-Soils-1.jpg

[Severity of soil degradation globally]. Retrieved from


http://www.fao.org/soils-portal/soil-degradation-restoration/global-soil-health-indicators-andassessment/soil-heath-physical/en/

[Soil degraded by years of erosion]. Retrieved from


https://www.soils.org/files/images/news/extreme-erosion-maize-field.jpg

[Soil degradation impacts on environment]. Retrieved from


http://cnx.org/resources/36b241d5dc16ace32d0fb4cbc159b900/graphics3.png

[Type, degree, and cause of degradation pie charts]. Retrieved


https://themoderenworld.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/soil-degrdation-graphs.png