Soil Erosion – UPSC GS1


  1. Nearly 30 per cent per cent of the country’s total geographical area is undergoing degradation (ISRO report)
  2. The main culprit is water erosion (26 per cent)
  3. India has committed itself to the U.N. Convention on Combating Desertification that it would fully stop land degradation by 2030


Which factors cause soil erosion, especially in India? Examine the measures taken to conserve soil in India. (200 Words)
Causes of soil erosion, esp. in India
  1. Topography: Hilly regions suffer from erosion due to heavy rainfall which causes slip erosion and thus landslides, and from the rivers which flow at a fast speed compared to the plains. The plains, even though they get reduced rainfall, soil erosion occurs due to over flowing of rivers.
  2. Rainfall: The sudden and continuous nature of monsoons add in soil erosion, esp. in plains where lack of forest cover. Also, the prolonged dry spell which precedes monsoon causes sheet erosion when monsoon occurs .
  3. Nature of soil: Porous water absorbing soil are least affected by erosion while impervious soil erode gradually by action of water.
  4. Human factors like.
1.1.  Overgrazing:  removal of grass by animals makes the top soil more susceptible to erosion.
1.2.  Deforestation: For mining activities, infrastructure building, loosed the soil and cause erosion.
1.3.  Improper farming techniques: Traditional methods of ploughing make water more easier for running down causing erosion. Most of Indian agriculture consist of small and marginal farmers who use traditional methods.
Measures to prevent soil erosion
  1. Regulation of land use, which accords different types of land according to their land use capability, thus minimising the risk of soil erosion without hampering developmental efforts. e.g. restriction of grazing in eroded forests, closed grazing fields, settlement of shifting agriculturist to permanent cultivation, retrieving highly eroded areas and bringing them under forest cover.
  2. Afforestation and preservation of forests.
  3. Improved land use practice in farming, like ploughing along the contours, adequate use of manures and fertilizers, crop rotation etc.
  4. Engineering measures- construction of bunds and terraces, check damn, proper drainage channels etc.


What do you understand by land degradation? Suggest measures for reduction of land degradation. (150 Words)
Land degradation is a process of change in characters of land where in the productivity, richness and composition of land is destroyed especially beyond human use. primary reasons for land degradation are excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides by farmers, dumping of solid and chemical waste in urban areas and Soil erosion.
Measures for reduction of Land degradation:
  1. Reduction in use of fertilizers and pesticides and encourage organic farming.
  2. Proper disposal of solid waste like domestic waste in cities and towns. Methods like disposal through incinerators can be used and ensuring no release of toxic gases.
  3. Soil erosion must be checked through measures like Watershed management, afforestation, agro-forestry, contour-bunding etc. practices.
  4. Preventing and taking mitigating measures for disasters like Bhopal gas tragedy. Large amounts of chemical releases effect land adversely .
  5. Regulation of industries and their waste disposal. Strict avoidance of disposal into nearby lands which will have harmful effects on local population, flora and fauna.
  6. Conversion of agricultural lands to activities like growing shrimps, prawns etc. must be reduced and regulated as it causes irreversible damage due to salinization of the land in the process.
Land must be maintained for easy rejuvenation and should be in harmony with nature otherwise the effects of it on humans are irreversible.



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