Presentation on theme: "Soil Erosion and Degradation. PA Standards 4.2.12.C: Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources 4.4.10.B: Agriculture and Society “The nation that destroys."— Presentation transcript:
PA Standards 4.2.12.C: Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources 4.4.10.B: Agriculture and Society “The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt (1937) Analyze factors that influence the availability of natural resources. Assess the influence of agriculture science on farming practices (plowing).
Key Questions How are soils being degraded and eroded? What can be done to reduce these losses?
Consider this… Human activity accelerates natural soil erosion. One-third to one-half of world’s croplands are losing topsoil faster than it is being renewed by natural processes.
HOW MUCH OF THE EARTH IS AVAILABLE FOR FARMING? Question: How much of the Earth is available for farming? http://www.agclassroom.org/teacher/screens avers/apple.htm http://www.agclassroom.org/teacher/screens avers/apple.htm
SOIL EROSION AND DEGRADATION Soil erosion lowers soil fertility and can overload nearby bodies of water with eroded sediment. Sheet erosion: surface water or wind peel off thin layers of soil. Rill erosion: fast-flowing little rivulets of surface water make small channels. Gully erosion: fast-flowing water join together to cut wider and deeper ditches or gullies.
SOIL EROSION AND DEGRADATION Soil erosion is the movement of soil components, especially surface litter and topsoil, by wind or water. Soil erosion increases through activities such as farming, logging, construction, overgrazing, and off-road vehicles.
Global Outlook: Soil Erosion Soil is eroding faster than it is forming on more than one-third of the world’s cropland.
SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE THROUGH SOIL CONSERVATION Modern farm machinery can plant crops without disturbing soil (no-till and minimum tillage. Conservation-tillage farming: Increases crop yield. Raises soil carbon content. Lowers water use. Lowers pesticides. Uses less tractor fuel.
SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE THROUGH SOIL CONSERVATION Terracing, contour planting, strip cropping, alley cropping, and windbreaks can reduce soil erosion.
Biodiversity LossSoil Water Air PollutionHuman Health Loss and degradation of grasslands, forests, and wetlands Erosion Water waste Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use Nitrates in drinking water Loss of fertility Aquifer depletion Pesticide residues in drinking water, food, and air Salinization Increased runoff and flooding from cleared land Other air pollutants from fossil fuel use Fish kills from pesticide runoff Waterlogging Sediment pollution from erosion Greenhouse gas emissions of nitrous oxide from use of inorganic fertilizers Contamination of drinking and swimming water with disease organisms from livestock wastes Desertification Killing wild predators to protect livestock Fish kills from pesticide runoff Surface and groundwater pollution from pesticides and fertilizers Belching of the greenhouse gas methane by cattle Loss of genetic diversity of wild crop strains replaced by monoculture strains Bacterial contamination of meat Overfertilization of lakes and rivers from runoff of fertilizers, livestock wastes, and food processing wastes Pollution from pesticide sprays
Review Key Questions How are soils being degraded and eroded? What can be done to reduce these losses?
Thought Problems How does deforestation, over farming, and over grazing contribute to erosion or arable land? If we exhaust the food-producing resources we have now, won’t science devise new ways to increase food production as it has been done in the past? What conclusions can we draw about the relationship between a growing population and a shrinking amount of land capable of growing food for those people? How can we preserve farmland?
Thought Problems - Answers How does deforestation, over farming, and over grazing contribute to erosion or arable land? 1/32 of land is suitable for agriculture; deforestation increases erosion, over farming decreases land nutrients, and over grazing increases erosion and decreases nutrients If we exhaust the food-producing resources we have now, won’t science devise new ways to increase food production as it has been done in the past? Hydroponics; genetics; decrease nutrients, decrease health in livestock; increase in antibiotics What conclusions can we draw about the relationship between a growing population and a shrinking amount of land capable of growing food for those people? Famine; decreased nutrients; different types of food How can we preserve farmland? No plow farming; stop wasting, rotate crops; conservation tillage, best management practices; limit development; buy local; eat lower on the food chain
Case Study: Soil Erosion in the U.S. – Some Hopeful Signs Soil erodes faster than it forms on most U.S. cropland, but since 1985, has been cut by about 40%. 1985 Food Security Act (Farm Act): farmers receive a subsidy for taking highly erodible land out of production and replanting it with soil saving plants for 10-15 years.
Desertification: Degrading Drylands About one-third of the world’s land has lost some of its productivity because of drought and human activities that reduce or degrade topsoil.
Salinization and Waterlogging Repeated irrigation can reduce crop yields by causing salt buildup in the soil and waterlogging of crop plants.
Cleanup Prevention Soil Salinization Solutions Reduce irrigation Switch to salt- tolerant crops (such as barley, cotton, sugarbeet) Flush soil (expensive and wastes water) Stop growing crops for 2–5 years Install underground drainage systems (expensive)
Salinization and Waterlogging of Soils: A Downside of Irrigation Example of high evaporation, poor drainage, and severe salinization. White alkaline salts have displaced cops.
SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE THROUGH SOIL CONSERVATION Fertilizers can help restore soil nutrients, but runoff of inorganic fertilizers can cause water pollution. Organic fertilizers: from plant and animal (fresh, manure, or compost) materials. Commercial inorganic fertilizers: Active ingredients contain nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium and other trace nutrients.
THE GREEN REVOLUTION AND ITS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT Since 1950, high-input agriculture has produced more crops per unit of land. In 1967, fast growing dwarf varieties of rice and wheat were developed for tropics and subtropics.
THE GREEN REVOLUTION AND ITS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT Lack of water, high costs for small farmers, and physical limits to increasing crop yields hinder expansion of the green revolution. Since 1978 the amount of irrigated land per person has declined due to: Depletion of underground water supplies. Inefficient irrigation methods. Salt build-up. Cost of irrigating crops.
THE GREEN REVOLUTION AND ITS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT Modern agriculture has a greater harmful environmental impact than any human activity. Loss of a variety of genetically different crop and livestock strains might limit raw material needed for future green and gene revolutions. In the U.S., 97% of the food plant varieties available in the 1940 no longer exist in large quantities.