Population Growth and its Impacts on Soil

Global population growth places a high amount of strain on our soil. Environmentally harmful processes like deforestation and overgrazing of grasslands accelerates erosion and degradation, causing huge losses to topsoil. According to the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations some of the most impacted areas of the world include Asia, the Pacific, Central & South America, and Africa. These areas have experienced growth in agricultural yields, however these improved yields have increased soil erosion and degradation.

POPULATION GROWTH

Water and wind account for large portions of degraded soils in these areas, however the impact of water and wind is so much greater once the soil loses vital microbial activity and nutrients. Additionally, these areas are over-exploiting water tables, sodicity and alkalinity are becoming more and more of a problem, soil fertility has been reduced, and entire areas of mangrove forest have been removed to keep pace with population. All of this has lead to a decrease in soil quality and an increase in soil loss due to erosion. The chart on the right shows the average rate of soil loss based on the type of field cover or crop.

Soil losses associated with different crops and covers

The illustration above drives home the point: the greater the population, the greater the pressure on soil. As we improve food production, it becomes vital to treat our soil like the living entity it is.

The Earth Restoration Foundation aims to perform research and education for all nations to reduce land degradation and erosion as a result of population growth.