In simple terms, you can define water erosion as a natural phenomenon. During rain, a large stream of water forces the soil particles to be removed from the soil’s topmost level.

It causes huge soil-surface detachment. If you look at the phases of erosion, you can understand that soil erosion and water erosion complement one another.

The sweeping power of rainwater exposes the top layers of the earth’s surface.

And for being exposed, the layers of soil also bring natural elements like minerals into the open environment.

During heavy rainfall, the natural elements like minerals and other inorganic particles flowing with water change the groundwater’s pristine version.

Thus, soil erosion develops the process of water erosion.

Major Types of Water Erosion

The term ‘water erosion refers to the common reasons for soil degradation all over the world.

If you focus on water erosion types, you will learn how in slow phases, it snatches the soil productivity power.

For a long time, this natural phenomenon exposes subsoil layers and affects the environment in diverse ways.

Having both destructive power and nature, this phenomenon shapes the universe in vast ways.

Here we are discussing four significant types of water erosion :

Inter-rill Water Erosion

Based on the primary reasons for this type of erosion, it is called raindrop erosion. Due to heavy rainfall, water flow leads to soil surface flow.

Though rainfall works behind this kind of water erosion, more crucial factors like climate, topography, vegetative cover, and elevation also significantly contribute to this type of water erosion.

In the whole process of water erosion, inter-rill erosion is the most important step. But this type of erosion has a significant dependency on the rainfall category at different times in different places.

Because while raindrops drizzle, it can not lead to moderate amounts of erosion. 

But, with severe storms, heavy rainfall causes extreme kinds of erosion.

During heavy rain, due to insufficient kinetic energy, raindrops have the proper capability for soil detachment. Raindrops force soil particles and to be swept away for airborne movement.

Rill Water Erosion

The concentrated flow of small streams causes rill water erosion. Sometimes, we refer to it as sheet erosion.

This type of erosion occurs through faster-flowing and deeper channels, which makes the water runoff downwards from a slope.

As the flow becomes more in-depth, the enhancement of velocity boosts the detachment of soil particles.

Almost 30cm up to a deeper scouring channel represents the intermediate process of water erosion.

This type of erosion makes soil movement through large sheets.

Gully Erosion

It is one kind of advanced phase of water erosion. Through the force of a massive water stream, Gully erosion moves the soil particles.

Gully water erosion means water stream washes away topmost soil layers through the vulnerable channel amid the unprotected lands.

In this type of water erosion, water runs in a sharp pattern, typically on the hillside soil layers.

The scouring channels created by this type of erosion can not be patched up through normal agricultural operations.

So, Gully erosion is one kind of most crucial water erosion, which leads to severe destruction in agricultural lands.

Streambank Erosion

A faster flowing stream of rivers runs, cutting the banks and causes this type of water erosion.

At the lower phase of the stream feeder and relative flat gradients, streambank water erosion occurs.

This kind of severe erosion is responsible for slipping down the slopes and damaging the surrounding agricultural fields.

Reasons for Water Erosion Concern

In the phases of water erosion, the different aspects of the ecosystem can be affected. After facing the diverse stages of soil erosion, the topsoil layers cause water erosion.

Here, we are discussing the adverse effects of extreme levels of water erosion.

How Plants Get Affected By Water Erosion

Plants face some adverse effects due to water erosion. According to geological survey results, excessive soil erosion damages the natural capability of water.

And this reason lowers the presence of sufficient amounts of carbon and nutrients in the water.

As a result, this natural phenomenon works as a direct influence to decrease crop productivity.

In the regions where water erosion influences the level of crop productivity, farmers suffer a lot.

Besides, due to growing with low-nutrients based water, the crops also contain low-nutrients.

How Environment Gets Affected By Water Erosion

In the ecosystem, water erosion has direct effects on the environment. After the mopping away of large soil particles from the topmost layers, the exposed and vulnerable layers fail to absorb the excess amount of rainwater.

In this condition, the low-lying areas cannot pass the extra amount of water during heavy rainfall. And as a consequence, these areas face flooding.

Due to having the limited capability of drainage, these areas have to face devastating flooding. And in severe conditions, this type of flooding sweeps away public properties like buildings, houses even roads.

How Wildlife Gets Affected By Water Erosion

Extreme levels of water erosion lead to disrupting the balance of wildlife also. While the topsoil layer decreases as a natural phenomenon, it damages the water quality increasing the minerals and inorganic water.

All the ecosystem members, including fish and animals, face adverse effects of this natural phenomenon.

As a significant consequence of water erosion, pesticide runoff causes a severe type of downstream water pollution. And the extreme level of polluted water affects fish breeding.

How Water Sources Get Affected By Water Erosion

After showcasing the adverse effects of water erosion on plants, environments, and wildlife, we will discuss its impact on natural water sources.

Due to soil erosion by rainwater, the slow but severe water erosion development leads to water quality declination.

While the eroded topsoil particles flow away into the diverse water sources, the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in water increases.

As a consequence, the oxygen level in water starts to decrease.

So, both the increment of an inorganic substance and the reduction of oxygen in water affect water’s natural quality.

Above all these, while the eroded soil particles reach into the water sources, it bears chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

The diverse effects of these inorganic substances in water ultimately damage the pristine quality of water.

How To Prevent Water Erosion

During continuous rainfall, the soil particles are wiped away through this natural phenomenon.  

Water erosion has direct roles in flooding, landslides, and reshaping of any landscape.

In agricultural fields, this causes plenty of crop productivity issues.

To get rid of all the adverse effects of water erosion, people can invest at least some effort.

The following discussions will provide fruitful suggestions on how to prevent this natural phenomenon.

Planting Vegetation

More and more planting in a collective way can prevent water erosion. People will get more effective results with vegetation rather than planting large plants.

While trees grow for an extended period, grass and greenery are fast-growing options to create an emergency cover for water erosion prevention.

In the flat-shaped land, vegetation and dense layers of grass prevent random water flow. Thus, these two options are useful in avoiding the adverse effects of this natural phenomenon.

Applying Mulch

In a few areas, due to the harsh environment nature of soil becoming so barren, people can not grow vegetation to create canopy cover.

In those areas, water erosion increases like a threat.

In this condition, people can lay down some specific ingredients like straw, compost, wood chips, etc.

These ingredients are called Mulch. Laying down Mulch is not only useful to grow green crops, but also it fights against the causes of water erosion.

The option of laying down mulch works in more effective ways even than vegetation.

Terracing

The terracing practice helps the soil create ridges for seizing the runoff of soil particles during rainfall.

So, this practice slows down directly and effectively.

This is an excellent practice for hillside areas to seize the surface water and steepness reduction.

People get significant results with this terracing practice to prevent sloping land formation.

Contouring

The contouring practice means crop planting on the same elevation in a random pattern after tilling the soil.

This practice works best to slow down the water flow from a higher peak in the flat-shaped land.

People depend on this practice the most to improve the soil moisture and reduce the level of erosion.

Strip Cropping

Strip cropping is such a practice that is followed along with contouring. And the whole combination prevents water flow, as well as soil erosion.

The involvement of this technique ensures the planting through the alternating row stripes.

So, this trend of planting creates a trap for the running water and shifting soil particles with the involvement of conserving sods.

 So, the crops grow to form a natural dam to slow down the water flow during rainfall. People opt for this practice for water erosion prevention effectively.

All these practices are followed by people in different areas to get rid of the adverse effects of water erosion.

To prevent this natural phenomenon, people try to find solutions among these practices involving nature itself.

Author

Mike Brown has done Masters in Hydrology and Water Management. He loves coffee and likes to lecture people on climate change. He plays PUBG when he is not working.

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