It’s a global war – against soil erosion

Soil erosion hits close to home, and has global implications, as well. The United States has been leading the fight for nearly 80 years. The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service can claim a long history of international involvement, dating back to when NRCS officials traveled throughout the world in the 1930s and 1940s to view soil and water conservation problems in other countries.

During that same time period, NRCS hosted international participants from other countries who observed what was taking place in the United States to combat serious soil erosion and land-use problems. This sharing of conservation knowledge led to an ongoing exchange of the best ways to address soil issues.

There is little doubt that international programs help all countries utilize natural resources without depleting them by sharing technical assistance, exchanging scientific and technical information, and helping promote economic stability at the same time.

In many countries, the care of soil results in better and widespread food production, which in turn helps reduce poverty and social issues related to hunger and poor nutrition.

To give an example of how important the fight against soil erosion is for the United States, consider this: AgriLife Reseach scientists in Texas are constantly working with the NRCS to combat soil erosion by using the country’s largest military installation at Fort Hood, Texas, as the “research lab.”

Because Fort Hood covers 214,000 acres and endures the largest concentration of armored tanks and vehicles conducting training sessions in the country, researchers are dealing with compacted ground, loss of plant cover and accelerated soil erosion that results in excess sediment in streams and lakes.

The research resulted in the creation of 30 more sediment retention ponds, construction of numerous small rock dams to block gully erosion, and the practice of plowing deep into the ground on a regular basis to prevent soil from becoming too compacted for plant life.

When compost and grass seed can be added to new contours of previously rough terrain, it results in vegetation buffers and far less water run-off.

Research like that at Fort Hood leads to new land management and agricultural practices that spread around the world, saving countless acres from erosion that renders them useless.


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