When various actions are carried out on the soil of a certain area, an inevitable degradation occurs. Actions such as agriculture, construction, livestock, deforestation, etc. They are degrading activities. The degradation of soil is defined as the change in the health of the same as a result of a decrease in the ability to produce goods or provide services. That is, soil begins to be degraded when it no longer has as much fertility as before.
What is soil degradation
The first thing is to know well all the aspects that surround soil degradation. We have to know that the soil has properties and characteristics that make it capable of providing various benefits for humans and for the ecosystem. Among these benefits and capabilities, we find that of being able to host living organisms. That is, thanks to the properties of the soil such as fertility, water retention, the presence of nutrients, etc. Life in him is possible.
With these properties, we can sow to be able to generate crops. These crops are foods that we will incorporate into our diet. However, through the process of agriculture, various chemicals are used to accelerate the growth of crops that end up degrading the soil. Therefore, degraded soils have a lower state of health that does not allow it to provide normal goods and services. These services and goods have to be adapted to the ecosystem where they are developed. Finding soil in an arid climate is not the same as finding soil in a tropical climate.
The soil that is in a fertile area will have a higher value than that that is in an area with less environmental quality. Land degradation is important to know the complexity of all existing processes. You have to know what processes begin to degrade the soil in order to identify the origin and stop it.
As we mentioned before, we are not interested in the fact that a soil begins to degrade and lose its properties. Therefore, we must focus our efforts on knowing the origin of that process that begins to degrade the properties of the soil. Among these reasons and processes we find the following.
It is often easy to confuse the term soil erosion. And is that soil erosion is not the same as soil degradation. Erosion is a natural process that occurs continuously in all ecosystems on the planet. Depending on the climate and the geological and biological conditions, this erosion will have a greater or lesser impact. Soil erosion is often confused with absolute soil loss, especially of the surface layer and nutrients. In fact, one of the most visible effects of soil degradation is long-term erosion.
Since it is a process that acts continuously over time, depending on its intensity, it will end up degrading the soil to a greater or lesser extent. Soil erosion is usually a natural process that occurs, with great intensity, in mountainous areas. This erosion can be worsened by poor soil management practices. For example, it can become degraded at a higher speed if good agricultural practices are not carried out. In this way, we manage to make the largest amount of soil lose its properties, which are what help us to cultivate crops in good conditions.
Another fundamental aspect is land degradation. This degradation is broader in scope than erosion and degradation as a whole. This is because land degradation covers all the negative changes in the soil. These changes are the ones that harm the ecosystem’s capacity as a whole to be able to provide goods and services. We are talking about biological goods such as the production of wood and food and, on the other hand, services related to water.
Desertification and desertification
Finally, another agent that causes soil degradation is desertification. It is a term that is frequently used to define the land degradation that occurs in human beings. That is to say, the action of the human being, such as the building, has a negative aspect of the degradation of the soil. The desertification process is often confused with desertification. The latter concept refers to land degradation in arid land areas. It is here where there are high rates of erosion and low vegetation cover. These environmental conditions cause irreversible changes in the earth to the point that it can no longer be recovered to its original state.
Normally all these soils are classified as degraded soils. Desertification can be stopped since it is a human-controlled aspect. It is up to us to recover soils that begin to degrade with activities such as forestry.
How to avoid soil degradation
To prevent soil degradation, the first fundamental aspect is prevention. Prevention in this area focuses on using conservation measures that help maintain natural resources and the production environment. Let’s not forget that for an area to be classified as useful, it needs to provide goods and services to the community. A soil that has no biological value will not be of community interest.
Mitigation processes are used to avoid soil degradation. It is the intervention that helps reduce degradation from the beginning of its appearance. The main objective is to stop continuous degradation and start to improve. In this way, the restoration of natural resources and, therefore, of their functions in the ecosystem is achieved. Mitigation impacts tend to be normally visible in the short to medium term. The state of soil degradation must also be taken into account.
Finally, we have rehabilitation. This is the part that is necessary when the earth is already degraded to such an extent that it is not possible in its original state. Consequently, it is necessary to invest in the long term with more expensive processes in order to obtain some positive impact.
I hope that with this information you can learn more about soil degradation and its consequences.