What is Soil Erosion?
Soil erosion is a serious soil problem for farmers. It’s estimated that 10X more soil is lost than what we see settling in the ditch. Erosion experts estimate that we lose an average of 5 tons of valuable topsoil annually. This equates to a layer roughly the thickness of 1 dime across an acre. You may think that’s not much, but when that’s compounded over 10 years, it’s a 1/2 inch. Consider how much topsoil your fields have on average, and you will realize that it is a substantial number we should not ignore.
What are the Types of Soil Erosion?
There are three main types of soil erosion: wind, rain, and mechanical.
The most common type of soil erosion on our Prairies is water-related, caused by rain or melting snow flowing over bare ground. The second form that we commonly see in this region is windblown particles that can pick up and carry away specs of dust from fields when there’s not enough vegetation around to contain them naturally, resulting in the loss of valuable topsoil.
Mechanical erosion is a problem in rolling topography as it moves valuable topsoil from the tops of ridges down into valleys. Ridges hold less water, grow less crop, and, as such, are more susceptible to repeated wind and water erosion.
What is Organic Matter (OM), and How is it Related to Soil Erosion?
Organic matter (OM) is soil’s best friend. It improves soil structure, tilth, and fertility; it helps soil to hold water better and get nutrients from deep in the soil up close to plant roots. OM also improves a soil’s ability to resist compaction–a major cause of soil erosion. All these benefits come from just one simple thing: organic matter. Organic matter is what makes your soil alive!
The importance of the organic matter is not just in holding the soil together but also in its ability to hold water and help with infiltration. 1% of organic matter is estimated to hold over $500/ac in nutrients at traditional fertilizer values. Organic matter is 50% carbon which feeds the microbes that help cycle nutrients that feed your crop.
Organic-matter content has been declining for decades as farmers have adopted intensive tillage practices such as plowing or tilling with heavy equipment that mixes soils and breaks down organic matter into smaller pieces that are lost faster than they can be replenished by natural means like decomposition.
Can Soil Erosion be Prevented?
Soil erosion is a serious problem for farmers and one that we are working hard to address. Protecting your soils from erosion and organic matter loss is crucial to ensuring your farming operation’s long-term sustainability and profitability.
By understanding your land and the soil, we can work together to reduce soil loss and improve your agricultural lands. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you reduce soil erosion on your farm.