Soil: Erosion Assessment

Authored by: John Boardman

Encyclopedia of Natural Resources

Print publication date:  July  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9781439852583
eBook ISBN: 9781351043847
Adobe ISBN:


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Soil erosion is the loss of soil from the surface of the Earth. It is a two-stage process with detachment of soil particles preceding transport by the agency of water or wind. It is a natural process occurring at relatively low rates but which may be accelerated by human actions. Erosion is driven by both socioeconomic (“ultimate factors”) and physical factors such as slope, soil, rainfall (“proximal factors”). Most erosion is associated with the formation of rills and gullies. Erosion has serious impacts on the fertility of soils, on water quality, and on reservoir storage capacity. Methods of assessing erosion include experimental plots, sediment yield in rivers, field monitoring, remote sensing, Cesium-137, historical analysis, expert opinion, and modeling. Combinations of these have often been used. Assessment of actual and potential erosion is necessary so that measures can be taken to prevent the loss of soil and limit the off-site impacts of erosion. A range of conservation measures have been used with varying degrees of success.

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