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More about healthy soil:
Runoff and erosion.
Why is it important to prevent soil erosion?
Soil erosion occurs when soil particles become dislodged and are carried away by wind or water. While erosion is a naturally occurring process, it becomes a problem in human-altered landscapes when the soil isn’t covered or held in place by roots. The loose soil, also called sediment, can cause water quality problems if it washes into waterways and carries pollutantsPollutants A substance that has negative effects on the environment. along with it. Excess sediment in streams makes it difficult for aquatic animals to see food, prevents vegetation growth, and clogs fish gills. It can also increase the cost of cleaning drinking water.
Soil erosion affects everyone.
It's an issue that occurs across all types of land. In urban areas, soil erosion can threaten building foundations and clog storm drains, causing flooding. Along streams, eroding banks threaten nearby infrastructure and overload the water with sediment. In rural areas, agricultural operations can experience reduced productivity when fertile topsoilTopsoil The uppermost layer of soil, which is high in organic matter, fertility, and soil life. is lost. All of these issues can cause economic and environmental damage.
How to prevent soil erosion:
The key to preventing soil erosion is to keep the soil covered. Plants are often the answer – their roots keep soil in place and provide space for water to soak in, rather than washing away. Taking steps to prevent erosion has big returns. Long-term erosion prevention efforts will provide lasting benefits for soil health and water quality.
- In your yard or community space
Manage excess rainwater by installing a rain garden or harvesting rain in a barrel. Install gutters, downspouts, and underground outlets on all buildings. Plant a variety of Pacific Northwest native plant species to create a network of strong roots that allow water absorption. Cover any remaining bare areas with mulch to increase water absorption and protect soil from the impacts of wind and rain.
- Along your stream
Plant vegetation to stabilize the streambanks. The roots of trees and shrubs will help hold soil in place. Streamside plantings have additional benefits beyond soil stabilization, including filtering pollutants and keeping water cool.
- On your farm
In between growing seasons, use plants to cover bare areas by practicing cover cropping and creating grassed waterwaysGrassed Waterways Water drainage channels that have plants growing at the bottom.. Stabilize roads and other heavy use areas with surfaces that allow water to soak into the soil while preventing direct exposure to wind and water. If you are unable to implement these long-term practices immediately, use erosion control blankets or hydraulic mulch to temporarily cover and stabilize soil. Install barriers, like fiber rolls or silt fences, to prevent any eroding soil from flowing off the property and into waterways.