Effects of Erosion: Significance of Soil

Topics: Soil, Erosion, Nitrogen Pages: 6 (745 words) Published: April 20, 2015


Effects of Erosion
Jose Castro
ENV/310
July 23, 2014
Wendy Armstrong

Significance of Soil
Soil is a very vital component for plants that helps them grow and thrive in the environment they are in. Erosion is causing soil to dissipate and it is putting a lot of strain on different plant species. In my paper I will discuss the effects erosion has on the environment and I will provide different ways to eradicate or control erosion. I will also discuss the consequences that erosion will provide if it is not managed quickly. Effects of Erosion

The nitrogen cycle has a main component which begins with the nitrogen that is in the air. The nutrients that it provides the soil goes through a complex system that is similar to constant recycling. Nitrogen in the air turns into biological matter through bacteria and algae (this is also known as nitrogen fixation). Bacteria in the air mix with nitrogen and it eventually becomes ammonia. Ammonia is packed full of nutrients that is used in fertilizer; the recycling process is known as denitrification which converts nitrates back into nitrogen gas (Nitrogen Cycle, N.D.).

The phosphorus cycle is similar to the nitrogen cycle with the exception that the nutrients it provides phosphate. As plants decay and animals release waste bacterial action occurs and phosphate is released into the environment to be reused. Phosphate can be found in water as it precipitates from shallow sediments (Phosphorus Cycle, N.D.). It is logical how wind and water cause erosion; waves constantly hitting rock and sand will make it decrease and wind blowing constantly causes the same affect. However, the scientific approach to explain water erosion is through hydraulic action.

The term for wind erosion can simply be described as abrasion; both processes erode sand, soil and water. The settings I wanted to discuss are the dams that have been built throughout the United States. Although the purpose of dams is to prevent flooding and store water, it has been a contributor to coastal erosion as well. For example, seawalls were designed to prevent erosion and ironically it actually causes more coastal erosion. The way it occurs is that the sand in front of the wall erodes away slowly, eventually undercutting the wall (Coastal Erosion, 2011).

Plants are known to contribute to erosion; the terms used when plants cause erosion is chemical weathering and mechanical weathering. When moss grows on rocks it releases chemicals that slowly dissolve the rocks. Plants contribute to rock erosion when the roots grow through cracks in the rocks as the roots search for water. Soil can also become victim to plants slowly eroding it; when the plants release chemicals it breaks down the soil. Managing erosion can be an arduous process; educating others can help in the efforts of controlling erosion.

One way to manage erosion is to eradicate the process of tilling. Tilling removes the soil from the top and exposes subsoil while burying the top soil. Presenting farmers with different methods that do not include the use of tilling would lower soil erosion. Surface cover and runoff are great ways to manage soil erosion. Surface cover prevents heavy showers from deteriorating the soil while runoff focuses on managing the flow of water at a down slope (Preventing and Managing Erosion, 2013).

Economics can have an effect on implementing an erosion control program. Many farmers are able to harvest a larger amount of crops and plant more seeds when they use tillage. If an erosion control program is implemented that eradicates the use of tilling and affects amount of crops they harvest, there is a good chance they will not want to make the changes. Low crop harvest equals less money farmers can revenue. Conclusion

There are several components that cause erosion to soil, sand and rocks; these components include plants, humans, animals, wind and water. Both the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles...

References: Coastal Erosion. (2011). Retrieved from http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/oceanography-book/coastalerosion.htm
Nitrogen Cycle. (N.D.). Retrieved from http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/onlcourse/chm110/outlines/nitrogencycle.html
Phosphorus Cycle. (N.D.). Retrieved from http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/308phosphorus.html
Preventing and managing erosion. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.qld.gov.au/environment/land/soil/erosion/management/
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