Water can seem so benign. Try to grab a handful of water and it slips right through your fingers as if it had no substance at all. All living things need water to survive, of course. But water can also be one of the most destructive substances on earth. This seeming paradox is not lost on anyone who has tried to fight to prevent loss of land to erosion.
While erosion can also be caused by other factors, notably wind, none are as ruinous or widespread as water erosion.
Water erosion comes from three basic sources: surface runoff, rivers and streams, and the ocean tides and waves. Of those three, surface runoff is the main source of land erosion. According to Science Daily, there are several serious problems associated with surface runoff.
It may seem unusual but raindrops can be especially harmful when striking bare land. No one raindrop can do much damage, but the combined forces can cause immense erosion, sometimes in a small amount of time. Erosion happens much more quickly than natural forces adding soil.
Soils provide a protective layer for plants and crops by not allowing the removal of nutrients this plant life needs to survive. Without this protective layer, survivability for crops lowers dramatically.
While many of these impacts are beyond the control of land owners and operators, there are methods to reduce the impact of water erosion. The National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory estimates that 3 billion metric tons of soil are carried away by water erosion each year.
The lab does offer several ways to combat this.