“I kiss the soil as if I placed a kiss on the hands of a mother, for the homeland is our earthly mother” – Pope John Paul II
Soil erosion is known as the wearing away of topsoil, leading to poor quality soil that is less conducive for plant and vegetation growth. In our series of blog posts focusing on erosion control, today we take a look at the harmful effects of soil erosion, and how they cause concerns not only to the environment, but also to human health and the economy as a whole.
Poor Quality Soil
Within any plantation area, the top layer of soil – known as topsoil – contains many of the organic materials and nutrients needed for plant growth. Erosion also leads to increasing the amount of clay present within the soil, leading to a lower level of water available to plants. When the topsoil is lost as a result of erosion, the area loses its most nutrient soil layer, thereby leading to a loss of quality soil. The resulting poor quality soil could lead to smaller yields of crop, and there is even a possibility of seeds and small plants being washed away.
Effects on Water Quality
Eroded soil is known to travel towards water surfaces by means of particles. These particles contain nutrients necessary for plant growth, but these nutrients could have a harmful effect on aquatic ecosystems.
On the other hand, the decreased level of crop as a result of erosion could make people use more artificial fertilizers and pesticides. These fertilizes contain chemicals that would pose a direct threat to water habitat. Both these factors combine to reduce the quality of water within the region. Eroded water could dispose large amounts of eroded soil in one place, leading to downstream flooding, landscape damages, and loss of plants.
Harmful Effects on Air
Eroded soil particles become a part of the atmosphere in the form of dust. This scenario, as well as the plantation chemicals that are being carried by the dust particles, contribute to air pollution. Air pollution in turn affects the growth of plants, and dust storms are capable of ruining crop of huge plantations within minutes.
Threat to Human Health
Polluted air could lead to skin diseases and respiratory illnesses for the people in the area, posing a direct threat to human well-being. Contaminated water could result in various hygienic issues, at times even at a fatal level. With soil erosion, production of food will be directly affected, and subdued access to fresh fruits and vegetables could lead to long term adverse impacts on the human body.
How Erosion Affects the Economy
As a result of soil erosion, there is likely to be dust storms and crop failures, resulting in huge losses for the farming and horticultural sectors. Additionally, massive steps need to be taken to reduce the effect of erosion, leading to greater financial costs. Developing countries are faced with further challenges, as they might not possess the resources to develop conservation schemes to prevent soil erosion all together.
Low produce from the agricultural sector would not be able to cater to the demands of the population. This would lead to people migrating to other countries, making way for further economic and cultural issues. In addition to these environmental factors, increased costs in maintaining human health and fighting illness could pose threats to the economic stability of families.
All of the above factors would have direct impact on society both in the short term and long term. If necessary steps are not taken, man and wildlife would suffer enormously in various aspects, which is why immediate action is needed in controlling erosion.
CoirGreen’s erosion control products have been specifically designed to prevent and reduce soil erosion. Coir fiber, which is sourced from the outer shell of coconuts, can be used in various forms in facing soil erosion. CoirGreen’s range of erosion control products include Erosion Control Blankets, Geotextiles, Coir Logs, Coir Pallets, and Jute Products; all which have been proven successful in countering soil erosion.