Soil: Erosion Assessment

Authored by: John Boardman

Landscape and Land Capacity

Print publication date:  June  2020
Online publication date:  May  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138334083
eBook ISBN: 9780429445552
Adobe ISBN:


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Soil erosion is the loss of soil from the surface of the Earth. It is a two-stage process with detachment of soil particles preceding transport by the agency of water or wind. It is a natural process occurring at relatively low rates but which may be accelerated by human actions. Erosion is driven by both socio-economic (“ultimate factors”) and physical factors such as slope, soil, rainfall (“proximal factors”). Most erosion is associated with the formation of rills and gullies. Erosion has serious impacts on the fertility of soils, on water quality, and on reservoir storage capacity. Methods of assessing erosion include experimental plots, sediment yield in rivers, field monitoring, remote sensing, Cesium-137, historical analysis, expert opinion, and modeling. Combinations of these have often been used. Assessment of actual and potential erosion is necessary so that measures can be taken to prevent the loss of soil and limit the off-site impacts of erosion. A range of conservation measures have been used with varying degrees of success.

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