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What Are the Main Causes of Soil Degradation? - Environmental Studies

Answer in Brief

What are the main causes of soil degradation?

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1. Deforestation: Forests play an important role in maintaining fertility of soil by
shedding their leaves which contain many nutrients. Forests are also helpful in
binding up of soil particles with the help of roots of vegetation. Therefore,
cutting о forests will affect the soil adversely.

2. Excessive Use of Fertilizers and Pesticides: Fertilizers are indispensable for
increasing food production but their excessive use has occasioned much
concern as a possible environmental threat. Excessive use of fertilizers is
causing an imbalance in the quantity of certain nutrients in the soil. This
imbalance adversely affects the vegetation.

3. Overgrazing: Increase in livestock population results in overexploitation of
pastures. Due to this, grass and other types of vegetation are unable to survive
and grow in the area, and lack of vegetation cover leads to soil erosion.
4. Salination: Increase in the concentration of soluble salts in the soil is called
salination. India has about six million hectares of saline land.

5. Water-logging: Excessive irrigation and improper drainage facility in the fields
cause rise in the ground water level. This ground water mixes with surface
water used for irrigation and creates a situation called water-logging. Ground
water brings the salts of soil in dissolved state up to the surface where they
form a layer or sheet of salt after evaporation. The term salinity is used for
such a situation.

6. Desertification: Desertification is a widespread process of land degradation in
arid, semi- arid, and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors,
including climatic variations and human activities. The UNO Conference on
Desertification (1977) has defined desertification as the “diminution or
destruction of the biological potential of land, and can lead ultimately to desert
like conditions.”

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