When it comes to environmental concerns, we constantly hear about the effects of pollution and global warming. While these two issues are certainly a big reason for the human race to change their collective habits, they’re not the only issues that are currently plaguing our planet. One thing we don’t hear about quite as much is the issue of soil erosion. As it turns out, we really need to make it a bigger deal because scientists are reporting that the world has lost nearly 33% of its land suitable for producing food thanks to soil erosion.
The problem is that while the available land for growing food has diminished severely over the past 40 years, the demand for that food has increased. The researchers from the University of Sheffield who have conducted the recent study are calling the loss nothing short of catastrophic.
The researchers say that the constant working of fields and the use of fertilizers has drastically diminished topsoil all over the globe. In fact, the rate of erosion is about 100 times faster than the rate at which new soil can form. While those figures come from scientists, it certainly doesn’t take one to understand how disturbing that ratio is.
One of the researchers said that what we may be approaching is another “Dust Bowl” like the one North America faced in the 1930s if we don’t make some drastic changes. Given our current pace, it’s believed that the soil we’re creating won’t be good for anything other than merely holding a plant in place.
The evidence of the erosion extends beyond the condition of dirt fields and plants. The washed away soil is finding its way into river systems and once clear rivers and sections of the world’s oceans are now stained brown from the silt deposits.
As for solutions to the problem, the University of Sheffield has proposed some options. Among them would be to recycle nutrients from runoff, rotate areas where crops are planted with livestock grazing lands, and making plants less dependent on fertilizers.
The researchers concluded their findings by saying that it isn’t the farmers who should be blamed for the issue. Instead, they said it’s the farmers who need support from the government to fight the issue, and for that, it’s going to take new policies, which all of us have the option of voting on and supporting.