Knowledge for better food systems

Intensive agriculture and soil erosion

In this piece for The Conversation, Dan Evans, PhD researcher in soil science at Lancaster University, explains his research on rates of soil formation and erosion. His measurements on a farm in Nottinghamshire, UK suggest that the top 30 cm of soil there could disappear within 138 years because the rate of erosion exceeds the rate of soil formation. 

On the global scale, soil erosion due to intensive agriculture could threaten the ability of soils to store nutrients, water and carbon. Evans outlines measures that can conserve soil, such as planting crops in rows across a hill instead of down it, planting trees, and using cover crops.

Read the full piece, Soil is our best ally in the fight against climate change – but we’re fast running out of it, here. See also the Foodsource chapter Food systems and contributions to other environmental problems.

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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