Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

This lecture will help you understand:

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "This lecture will help you understand:"— Presentation transcript:


2 This lecture will help you understand:
The relationship between soils and agriculture Major agricultural developments The fundamentals of soil science Causes and consequences of soil erosion and degradation Principles of soil conservation

3 No-till agriculture in Southern Brazil
Southern Brazil’s climate and soils make for bountiful harvests Repeated planting has diminished the productivity of the soil Leaving crop residues on their fields after harvesting and planting “cover crops” reduced erosion, increased yields and cut costs These no-till techniques have benefited everyone

4 Soil: the foundation for agriculture
Land devoted to agriculture covers 38% of Earth’s land surface Agriculture = practice of raising crops and livestock for human use and consumption Cropland = land used to raise plants for human use Rangeland or pasture = land used for grazing livestock Soil = a complex plant-supporting system consisting of disintegrated rock, organic matter, water, gases, nutrients, and microorganism It is a renewable resource

5 Population and consumption degrades soil
Feeding the world’s rising human population requires changing our diet or increasing agricultural production Land suitable for farming is running out We must find ways to improve the efficiency of food production Mismanaged agriculture turns grasslands into deserts; removes forests; diminishes biodiversity; and pollutes soil, air, and water Fertile soil is blown and washed away

6 Millions of acres of cropland are lost each year
We lose 5-7 million ha (12-17 million acres) of productive cropland annually

7 Soil degradation has many causes
Soil degradation results from deforestation, agriculture and overgrazing Over the past 50 years, soil degradation has reduced global grain production by 13%

8 Agriculture arose 10,000 years ago
Agriculture was invented independently by different cultures The earliest plant and animal domestication is from the “Fertile Crescent” of the Middle East Wheat, barley, rye, peas, lentils, onions, goats, sheep

9 Traditional agriculture
Traditional agriculture = biologically powered agriculture, using human and animal muscle power Subsistence agriculture = families produce only enough food for themselves Intensive agriculture = produces excess food to sell Uses animals, irrigation and fertilizer, but not fossil fuels

10 Industrialized agriculture is a recent phenomenon
Industrialized agriculture = using large-scale mechanization and fossil fuels to boost yields Also uses pesticides, irrigation and fertilizers Monocultures = uniform planting of a single crop Green revolution = the use of new technology, crop varieties and farming practices introduced to developing countries Increased yields Created new problems and worsened old ones

11 Food distribution and preparation
Food production 4% 2% 6% 5% 17% of total U.S. commercial energy use Crops Livestock Food processing Food distribution and preparation Figure 13.7 Natural capital degradation: Industrialized agriculture uses about 17% of all commercial energy in the United States and food travels an average 2,400 kilometers (1,300 miles) from farm to plate. The resulting pollution degrades the air and water and contributes to global warming. QUESTION: What might happen to your lifestyle if the price of oil rises sharply? (Data from David Pimentel and Worldwatch Institute) Fig. 13-7, p. 277

12 Industrialized agriculture Plantation agriculture
Figure 13.4 Natural capital: locations of the world’s principal types of food production. Industrialized agriculture Plantation agriculture Intensive traditional ag. Shifting cultivation Nomadic herding No agriculture Fig. 13-4, p. 275

13 Soil as a system Soil consists of mineral matter, organic matter, air, and water Dead and living microorganisms, and decaying material Bacteria, algae, earthworms, insects, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles Since soil is composed of living and non-living matter, it is considered an ecosystem

14 Soil formation is slow and complex
Parent material = the base geologic material of soil Lava, volcanic ash, rock, dunes Bedrock = the continuous mass of solid rock comprising the Earth’s crust Weathering = the physical, chemical, or biological processes that break down rocks to form soil Physical (mechanical) = wind and rain, no chemical changes in the parent material Chemical = substances chemically interact with parent material Biological = organisms break down parent material

15 Weathering produces soil

16 Other processes affect soil formation
Erosion = the dislodging and movement of soil by wind or water Occurs when vegetation is absent Biological activity includes decomposition, and accumulation of organic matter Humus = a dark, spongy, crumbly mass of material formed by partial decomposition

17 A soil profile consists of horizons
Horizon = each layer of soil Soil profile = the cross-section of soil as a whole Up to six major horizons may occur in a soil profile Topsoil = inorganic and organic material most nutritive for plants Leaching = dissolved particles move down through horizons

18 Soil Horizons Litter layer – deposited organic matter
Topsoil – organic/mineral components Leached layer – lighter in color due to loss of organics/minerals Subsoil – where leached organics/minerals accumulate Weathered Parent Material Bedrock or Pure Parent Material

19 Soils are characterized in many ways
Soils are classified based on color, texture, structure, and pH Soil color = indicates its composition and fertility Black or dark brown = rich in organic matter Pale gray or white = indicates leaching Soil texture = determined by the size of particles From smallest to largest = clay, silt, sand Loam = soil with an even mixture of the three Influences how easy it is to cultivate and let air and water travel through the soil

20 Soil texture classification
Silty soils with medium-size pores, or loamy soils with mixtures of pore sizes are best for plant growth and crop agriculture

21 Soil structure and pH Soil structure = a measure of soil’s “clumpiness” Large clumps can discourage plant roots Repeated tilling compacts soil, decreasing its water-absorbing capabilities Plowpan = a hard layer resulting from repeated plowing that resists water infiltration and root penetration Soil pH = influences a soil’s ability to support plant growth Soils that are too acidic or basic can kill plants

22 Cation exchange is vital for plant growth
Cation exchange = process that allows plants to gain nutrients Negatively charged soils hold cations (positively charged ions) of calcium, magnesium, and potassium Cation exchange capacity = a soil’s ability to hold cations, preventing them from leaching, thereby increasing their availability to plants A useful measure of soil fertility Greatest in fine soils

23 Regional differences in soils affect agriculture
Rainforests have high primary productivity, but the nutrients are in plants, not the soil Rain leaches minerals and nutrients deeper into the soil, reducing their accessibility to roots Swidden agriculture = cultivation of a plot for a few years and then letting it regrow into forest Temperate grasslands have lower rainfall and less nutrient leaching

24 Erosion degrades ecosystems and agriculture
Deposition = the arrival of eroded material at its new location Flowing water deposits sediment in river valleys and deltas Floodplains are excellent for farming But, erosion is a problem because it occurs faster than new soil is formed Erosion increases through: excessive tilling, overgrazing, and clearing forests

25 Stable or nonvegetative
Figure 13.10 Natural capital degradation: global soil erosion. Three-quarters of Africa’s farmland is severely depleted of soil nutrients, compared with 40% in The reason is that because of population growth and poverty, farmers grow crop after crop, depleting the soil’s fertility. If this continues, crop yield in Africa, already very low, could fall as much as 30% by The result is more frequent famines and increasing dependence on food aid and imports. QUESTION: How serious is soil erosion where you live? (Data from UN Environment Programme and the World Resources Institute) Serious concern Some concern Stable or nonvegetative Fig , p. 279

26 Various types of soil erosion
Splash Sheet Rill Gully

27 Wind Erosion Can equal or exceed water in erosive force
Row crops, corn and soybean, leave the soil exposed for most of the year Deep-plowing and heavy herbicide use create weed free fields that allow wind/water to erode between plants 25 billion metric tons of soil are lost yearly due to wind and water erosion

28 The Dust Bowl In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, settlers arrived in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado Grew wheat, grazed cattle Removed vegetation A drought in the 1930s made conditions worse Thousands of farmers left their land and had to rely on governmental help

29 Desertification Desertification = a loss of more than 10% productivity
Erosion, soil compaction, forest removal, overgrazing, salinization, climate change, depletion of water sources Most prone areas = arid and semiarid lands

30 Moderate Severe Very severe Fig. 13-11, p. 280 Figure 13.11
Natural capital degradation: desertification of arid and semiarid lands is caused by a combination of prolonged drought and human activities that expose soil to erosion. QUESTION: What three things would you do to reduce desertification? (Data from UN Environment Programme and Harold E. Drengue) Moderate Severe Very severe Fig , p. 280

31 Desertification has high costs
Desertification affects 1/3 of the planet’s land area In over 100 countries Costs tens of billions of dollars each year China loses over $6.5 billion/year alone from goat overgrazing In Kenya, 80% of he land is vulnerable to desertification from overgrazing and deforestation

32 Causes Consequences Overgrazing Worsening drought Deforestation Famine
Erosion Economic losses Salinization Lower living standards Soil compaction Natural climate change Environmental refugees Figure 13.12 Natural capital degradation: causes and consequences of desertification. QUESTION: How serious is the threat of desertification where you live? Fig , p. 280

33 Less permeable clay layer
Transpiration Evaporation Evaporation Evaporation Waterlogging Less permeable clay layer Figure 13.13 Natural capital degradation: salinization and waterlogging of soil on irrigated land without adequate drainage can decrease crop yields. Salinization Waterlogging 1. Irrigation water contains small amounts of dissolved salts 1. Precipitation and irrigation water percolate downward. 2. Evaporation and transpiration leave salts behind. 2. Water table rises. 3. Salt builds up in soil. Fig , p. 281

34 Overapplication of Fertilizer
Inorganic fertilizer use has skyrocketed Overapplying fertilizer can ruin the soil and severely pollute several areas Runoff causes eutrophication in nearby water systems Nitrates leach through soil and contaminate groundwater Nitrates can also volatilize (evaporate) into the air

35 Environmental effects of over-fertilizing

36 Overgrazing causes soil degradation
Overgrazing = too many animals eat too much of the plant cover Impedes plant regrowth A leading cause of soil degradation Government subsidies provide few incentives to protect rangeland 70% of the world’s rangeland is classified as degraded

37 Effects of overgrazing can be striking
Non-native invasive species invade Less palatable to livestock Out compete native vegetation Ungrazed plot Grazed plot

38 Forestry impacts soil Along with farming and ranching, forestry impacts soils Clear-cutting = the removal of all trees from an area at once Leads to soil erosion, especially on steep slopes Modern methods remove fewer trees over longer periods of time Minimizes soil erosion

39 Protecting soil: crop rotation and contour farming
Crop Rotation = alternating the crops grown field from one season or year to the next, Cover crops protect soil when main crops aren’t planted Wheat or corn and soybeans Contour Farming = plowing furrows sideways across a hillside, perpendicular to its slope, to prevent rills and gullies

40 Protecting soil: terracing and intercropping
Terracing = level platforms are cut into steep hillsides, sometimes with raised edges A “staircase” to contain water Intercropping = planting different types of crops in alternating bands or other spatially mixed arrangements Increases ground cover

41 Protecting soil: shelterbelts and reduced tillage
Shelterbelts or Windbreaks = rows of trees or other tall, perennial plants that are planted along the edges of fields to slow the wind Alley cropping = shelterbelts + intercropping Reduced Tillage = furrows are cut in the soil, a seed is dropped in and the furrow is closed No-till farming disturbs the soil even less

42 Pros and cons of no-till farming
Almost half of U.S. farmland uses no-till farming Benefits: reduced soil erosion, greater crop yields, enhanced soils, lowers water use, lowers pesticide use, uses less tractor fuel Negatives: increased use of herbicides and fertilizers But, green manure (dead plants and fertilizer) and rotating crops minimizes the negatives

43 Plant cover reduces erosion
Eroding banks along creeks and roadsides are stabilized by planting plants to anchor soil China has the world’s largest tree-planting program It does slow erosion But it does not create ecologically functional forests, because monocultures are planted

44 Salinization prevention
It is easier and cheaper to prevent salinization than fix it Do not plant water-guzzling crops in sensitive areas Irrigate with low-salt water Irrigate efficiently, supplying only water that the crop requires Drip irrigation targets water directly to plants

45 Solutions Soil Salinization Prevention Cleanup Reduce irrigation
Flush soil (expensive and wastes water) Stop growing crops for 2–5 years Figure 13.15 Solutions: methods for preventing and cleaning up soil salinization. QUESTION: Which two of these solutions do you think are the most important? Switch to salt-tolerant crops (such as barley, cotton, sugarbeet) Install underground drainage systems (expensive) Fig , p. 281

46 Fertilizers boost yields but cause problems
substances that contain essential nutrients can help restore soil nutrients, but runoff of inorganic fertilizers can cause water pollution. Commercial inorganic fertilizers: Active ingredients contain nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium and other trace nutrients mined or synthetically manufactured mineral supplements Organic fertilizers: from plant and animal (fresh, manure, or compost) remains. manure, crop residues, fresh vegetation Compost = produced when decomposers break down organic matter

47 The Soil Conservation Service
Started in 1935, the Service works with farmers to develop conservation plans for farms Assess the land Prepare an integrated plan Work closely with landowners Implement conservation measures Conservation districts = districts operate with federal direction, authorization, and funding, but are organized by the states

48 Conservation districts
Districts implement soil conservation programs to empower local residents to plan and set priorities Natural Resources Conservation Service = 1994 renaming of the Soil Conservation Service Expanded responsibilities include water quality protection and pollution control Serves as a model for efforts around the world

49 U.S. programs promote soil conservation
Food Security Act of 1985: Farmers that adopt soil conservation plan receive price supports and other benefits Conservation Reserve Program (1985) Farmers are paid to place highly erodible land into conservation reserves Trees and grasses are planted instead of crops Saves 771 million tons of topsoil per year Generates income for farmers Provides habitat for native wildlife

50 Federal Agricultural Improvement Act (1996)
Known as the Freedom to Farm Act Aimed to reduce subsidies and government influence over farm products Created the Environmental Quality Incentive Program and Natural Resource Conservation Foundation Promotes and pays for conservation practices in agriculture Low-Input Sustainable Agriculture Program (1998) Provides funding for sustainable agricultural practices for individual farmers

51 International soil conservation programs
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) = the United Nations’ main agricultural program The FAO’s Farmer-Centered Agricultural Resource Management Program (FAR)… Helps farmers duplicate agricultural success stories Uses local communities to educate and encourage farmers to conserve soils and secure the food supply Supports innovative approaches to resource management and sustainable agriculture in around the world China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal

52 Conclusion Programs in the U.S. and the world have been successful in reducing topsoil erosion These programs require: Research, education, funding, and commitment from farmers and governments To avoid a food crisis caused by population growth, we need Better technology Wider adoption of soil conservation techniques To consider Aldo Leopold’s land ethic program

53 QUESTION: Review Traditional subsistence agriculture uses all of the following, except: Animal power Irrigation Irrigation water Fossil fuels Answer: d

54 QUESTION: Review Physical weathering is characterized by:
The chemical interaction of water with parent material Organisms breaking down parent material Wind or rain breaking down parent material The dislodging or movement of soil by wind Answer: c

55 QUESTION: Review Which horizon is the most valuable for agriculture?
Topsoil (A horizon) E horizon B horizon R horizon Answer: a

56 QUESTION: Review Erosion increases through all of the following, except: Excessive tilling Overgrazing Clearing forests All of the above increase erosion Answer: d

57 QUESTION: Review Which sustainable farming method involves planting rows of trees along field edges to slow the wind? Terracing Crop rotation Shelterbelts Contour farming Answer: c

58 QUESTION: Weighing the Issues
Should developed nations fund reforestation projects in developing nations to combat erosion and deforestation? Absolutely, developing nations are facing a crisis No, not with money, but developed nations could give advice No, developed nations had to solve their problems, let the others solve their own problems I don’t care, it doesn’t really affect me Answer: any

59 QUESTION: Weighing the Issues
Should the U.S. government provide farmers with financial incentives to use technologies such as no-till farming and crop rotation? Absolutely, farmers may be more likely to switch to these techniques Yes, but farmers must put any money received into the farm No, it’s not the government’s job to interfere with farming practices I don’t care, it doesn’t really affect me Answer: any

60 QUESTION: Interpreting Graphs and Data
According to this figure, which of the following is NOT true? Reduced tillage results in less nitrogen loss Conventional tillage causes more soil loss Organic carbon lost is greater with reduced tillage Conventional and reduced tillage have few differences Answer: c

Download ppt "This lecture will help you understand:"

Similar presentations

Ads by Google