Unit 4: Agriculture - Accelerated Soil Erosion

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  • Accelerated Soil Erosion - removal of soil by water/wind more quickly than formation
    • Vegetation reduces soil erosion rate
      • Natural windbreak - slows wind
      • Reduces raindrop impact by cover and leaf litter
      • Organic matter and roots bind soil together
      • Increase infiltration rate and reduce runoff
    • Farming increases soil erosion rate
      • Vegetation removal increases wind velocity and raindrop impact
      • Ploughing loosens soil
      • Falling humus levels loosens soil
      • Overgrazing reduces plant cover and root binding
      • Coastal sedimentation
    • Types
      • Rainsplash - falling raindrops compact soil and disperse surface particles
      • Overland flow - thin sheets of running surface water
      • Rill erosion - small amounts of water flowing in temporary channels detaches and transfers particles
      • Gully erosion - large amounts of water flowing in permanent steep-sided channels
      • Wind erosion - removes and transfers soil particles
    • Problems caused by soil erosion
      • Reduced agricultural productivity (lower soil fertility and crop productivity)
      • Desertification
      • Silting up of river deltas = increased flood risks
      • Dust pollution
      • Ecological changes
      • Aesthetic pollution - land scars
      • Landslides
      • Turbid runoff in rivers = sedimentation in reservoirs
      • Flooding downstream due to reduced river flow capacity

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