Today at Blue Ridge Napping Institute, Camille, our friend Jess, and I (Riley) helped Tom open the flood gates on his pond in order to flush out two years worth of sediment.
Before we opened the gates, the pond’s dam was filled to the brim with sand, and the water was only a few inches deep. I was shocked to learn that just two years ago, the pond had a depth of six feet.
So what happened? —Erosion happened.
Although some degree of stream and bank erosion is normal, Tom’s dam has no doubt sped up and even worsened the otherwise natural phenomenon (Read more about how dams increase erosion here).
As we struggled to open the flood gates, I began thinking about all the other short-sighted and unsustainable human activities that have so dramatically increased the erosion of Earth’s topsoil.
Deforestation; the overgrazing of livestock; continuously tilling and monocropping farmland. –Not only are these myopic and irresponsible practices eroding topsoil at break-neck speed, but this (unnecessary and unnatural) erosion is resulting in the desertification of our land and the pollution of our waterways.
(Ever hear of the Dust Bowl?)
According to Volkert Engelsman, an activist with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (quoted in Scientific American), “We are losing 30 soccer fields of soil every minute, mostly due to intensive farming,”
This is astonishing considering (according to the Natural Resource Conservation Service) most soil scientists agree that it takes at least 100 years, and in some places up to 500 years (depending on climate, vegetation, and other factors) for Nature to build just one inch of topsoil.
So how do we stop this madness? –What can we do to prevent and /or curb the effects of erosion? Here are a few ideas:
- Plant trees and shrubs (especially on slopes or shorelines)
- Rotate crops
- Employ organic, no-til, and Permaculture farming methods
- Eat less meat and animal products (which will mean less grazing of livestock)
- Plant a Rain Garden (to soak up excess rain and run-off)
- Cover bare patches of soil with mulch or vegetation
- Build terraces or retaining walls
Can you think of other ways we can prevent erosion? –If so, please share your ideas in the comment section below.