Why we must fight soil erosion

Saturday November 21 2020
farm04pix
By Michael J Ssali


To carry out successful crop production it is important that the soil in which the plants are anchored is appropriate and has the requisite natural nutrients to support vigorous growth.

 It is quite common for people to describe the soil in their gardens as “having gotten too old to support normal crop growth.” But the truth could be that its fertility was actually robbed by erosion. 

When soil is left open and exposed, it can be removed by such forces as moving objects that pass over it, running water, and wind.

 In some cases it is taken very stealthily in very tiny bits and some farmers often don’t notice the loss immediately. One of the signs that soil is being washed away from the garden is the exposure of stones and tree roots that were previously covered by  soil. In some extreme cases crops that have a shallow root system like beans and maize can be washed away together with the soil and taken to other places along the slope.

 Such robbery leaves the farmer with less fertile soil which was previously lying underneath. Yet it is not the type of soil that nature meant for providing the necessary nutrients for crops.

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Agriculturists say erosion takes away the physical properties that are essential for ideal crop growth that include good soil structure and texture. Erosion destabilises the profiles of the soil. 

The top soil which is robbed by erosion also goes with living organisms that by nature move nutrients from one area to another within the soil, besides facilitating aeration. 

In some cases, the soil removed from one part of the slope may be deposited on top of some good soil bearing crops, which may all get buried and lost to the farmer.
Soil erosion is often the result of careless human activity.  By nature, the soil is usually covered with wild plants. 

When a farmer clears the plants to grow crops, he exposes the soil to running water and wind, which take the soil with them. The farmer should , therefore, cover the soil with either crops or with mulch.

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