We see soil everywhere around us and we often hear someone saying that this soil was good and fertile some time ago but now it has been discarded because it is of no use. Do you wonder what is the reason behind this? Well, it’s the act of soil erosion. Soil erosion is a very common natural thing that happens. It leads to poor quality of soil and decreases fertility too. Although there are some plants that prevent soil erosion, not everyone is aware of them, especially the fact that forest plants prevent soil erosion. Mainly, in any plant, the roots of plants prevent soil erosion and help in maintaining good soil quality. Read this article to know how!
1. What is Soil Erosion?
Soil erosion is the wearing away of the upper layer of soil by natural forces. These forces are water, snow, plants, animals, and wind, and some processes related to farming such as tillage. It is a form of soil degradation and the removal is mainly of the uppermost layer of soil that is fertile. Soil erosion makes the soil infertile and unsuitable for plant growth. The erosion is caused because the top layer of soil is very light that is easily carried away by natural agents like wind and water. Now that we learned about what soil erosion is, let us look at the 3 types of soil erosion. Also, check out what are factors affecting soil weathering?
2. What are the 3 Types of Soil Erosion?
The 3 types of soil erosion are:
- Mass movement: This type of soil erosion happens due to natural disasters like landslides, slumps, and slides. The rocks and sediments move downwards due to the effect of gravity which leads to disturbances in the land. It results in soil erosion.
- Water erosion: When the movement of water takes away the soil from the land, then it is water erosion. The soil is eroded away by the land, making the region infertile and leading to the poor quality of the soil. Water erosion, unless caused by floods, can be treated with the construction of some proper drainage channels.
- Wind erosion: The upper layer of the soil that is carried away by the wind is known as wind erosion. Wind erosion is a very common form of soil erosion that leads to poor land and soil quality. To prevent wind erosion, grasses or cover crops should be grown. The roots of these crops bind the soil together, preventing the wind from carrying it away.
3. What prevents Soil from Erosion?
Hope you understood the 3 types of soil erosion, so let us move on to its prevention. Soil erosion has to be prevented due to the negative and harmful effects caused by it. Here are a few ways that help in preventing soil from getting eroded:
- Growing perennial plants: Perennial plants live for more than two years. Sometimes they die back seasonally but produce new growth in the spring season. So, the perennial plants that prevent soil erosion are good for soil health.
- Mulching: Mulching is the practice of covering the open surface of the ground with some external materials. The material that is used to cover the area is known as mulch. Mulching prevents soil erosion by being a protective top layer and preventing the soil from getting eroded by wind and water.
- Planting cover crops: Cover crops are simply planted to cover the soil. They are not planted for the purpose of being harvested. Cover crops are multipurpose crops that not only prevent soil erosion but also keep the soil quality and fertility in check. The growth of weeds and pests is also limited due to the presence of cover crops in the field.
- Avoiding overgrazing: Overgrazing by animals in a patch of land for longer durations leads to poor soil health. The vegetation leaves the soil exposed to the forces of nature which leads to soil erosion. Preventing overgrazing by practicing better grazing management can help in preventing soil erosion.
- Managing drainage: The proper management of drainage and water will help in preventing soil erosion. Making channels for water to pass through will avoid it from spreading all over the land and damaging the soil leading to soil erosion.
4. Can Trees prevent Soil Erosion?
Trees are excellent agents that prevent soil erosion. They help in storing the minerals and nutrients in the soil and reduce their run-off. The root system and foliage of trees reduce the effect of erosive forces. The roots of the trees are thick with further fine filaments that form a great network of roots underground. This root network keeps the soil-bound and in place. The soil stabilizes around the tree. Trees help in improving the drainage of the soil and prevent soil erosion. Some forest plants prevent soil erosion too. (See What are the Uses of Soil?)
5. How do Forest Plants prevent Soil Erosion?
Forest plants prevent soil erosion by keeping the top fertile layer of soil in check. The root system of the trees is very elaborate. Trees have large thick roots that further divide into finer filaments. These filaments hold the soil together by keeping it bound. So, whenever there are strong winds or a heavy flow of water, the soil stays in place and does not get eroded. The roots of the trees also soak up extra water and store it in the soil. In the next segment, you will see the names of the plants that prevent soil erosion, so read on. (See What is Dense Forest Meaning and Definition?)
6. What are Some Plants that prevent Soil Erosion?
All plants and trees are efficient in preventing soil erosion as their roots bind the soil together preventing it from run-off. Mostly, cover crops are best to avoid and prevent soil erosion because they are easy to grow. Apart from these cover crops, native grasses are a very good way to prevent soil erosion. These grasses need less maintenance and fit easily into the landscape.
The plants that prevent soil erosion restrict the soil from getting eroded by binding the soil to its roots. The topsoil is held in place by the elaborative network of the roots of these plants. They also prevent the growth of weeds. The answers to the question of what are some plants that prevent soil erosion are:
- Creeping Juniper,
- Sudan grass,
- Austrian winter peas, and
- Timothy grass.
7. Which Parts of Pants help Soil Conservation?
The roots of plants prevent soil erosion. Roots are the part of the plant that helps in soil conservation. They keep the soil in check. The soil is firmly held and bound by the roots, so it does not erode away with winds and water. Roots keep the soil tightly held and due to the wide network of roots, some water is absorbed by them. This water is in contact with the soil around the roots which makes the soil closely bound with the roots and makes it difficult for the agents like wind and water to erode away the soil. Also, check out which factors exert the greatest influence over terrestrial biome?
8. Which Roots of Plants prevent Soil Erosion?
The roots of the plants in the soil play an important role in preventing soil erosion. The fibrous root system works the best and it answers your question of which roots of plants prevent soil erosion. The thick roots divide into smaller and finer fibers which makes the root structure massive. This structure holds the soil firmly. Even the minute fibers keep the soil-bound to them and when soil is bound, it does not erode away by external agents like wind and water. This way, roots help in soil conservation and prevent soil erosion. Also, check out which tree gives oxygen?
9. Why are Grasses planted to prevent Soil Erosion?
Grasses are a very effective way in preventing soil erosion. Grasses have a fibrous root system that spreads throughout the soil. This spreading of roots keeps a large part of the soil-bound. And since grass covers the whole landscape evenly, a large part of the soil is bound and saved from getting eroded. Grasses are the plants that prevent soil erosion and also add greenery to the area. (See How would You describe a Grass?)
10. Which Algae prevent Soil Erosion?
After learning about the plants that prevent soil erosion, let us look at the algae which prevent soil erosion. Most of the soil algae help in preventing soil erosion but blue-green algae especially prove to be better than others. It acts as a cementing agent that binds the soil together and prevents the soil from eroding away. It holds the soil together and prevents natural forces like water and wind from taking away the soil. Soil quality is improved and soil erosion is also prevented through this. Soil algae like blue-green algae provide some nutrients to the soil and keep the soil healthy. It maintains the quality and fertility of the soil. (See What is Environmental Manipulation of Crops?)
11. What does not prevent Soil Erosion?
Soil erosion is a damaging process for the soil which needs to be prevented at all costs. Besides knowing about the plants that prevent soil erosion, we need to take up steps that prevent soil erosion like growing vegetation on the land, mulching, making proper drainage channels, etc. The steps that do not help in preventing soil erosion are:
- Deforestation: The clearing of forested land for some purpose is known as deforestation. They are mainly done for cattle grazing, agriculture, and using wood for fuel among many other purposes. This clearing of land has a lot of negative impacts.
- Overgrazing: Overgrazing is one of the most common acts that lead to soil erosion. Overgrazing is the excessive grazing by animals on a particular patch of land for longer durations. It reduces the productivity and fertility of the land and leads to poor soil health.
- Mining: Mining is the act of obtaining minerals from the mines. These mines are located underground and to get access, one needs to dip deeper into the grounds. Very heavy and huge pieces of machinery are used to extract the minerals that lead to poorer lands. It highly affects the quality of the land. Mining leads to soil erosion.
- Construction: Any construction activity on the land dramatically changes the quality of the soil of that land. It has negative consequences that lead to poorer land fertility and soil erosion.
Preventing soil erosion is not a tedious task as we have seen now. Hence, planting small plants that prevent soil erosion will help in maintaining soil health. So let us all contribute to protecting our precious soil. (Also read How do Animals cause Erosion?)