Why Do We Need to Protect the Soil?
Each year, tons of topsoil leave the land and end up in our streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. As people cleared the land, paved roads and built homes, our waterways lost much of the natural protection that grasses, wetlands and forests provide against rainwater runoff and soil erosion. When the rains come, runoff carries topsoil, fertilizers, pesticides, oils and other pollutants into the Bay system. Once in our waterways, these contaminants cloud the water, fill in stream channels, and harm fish and underwater plants.
Farmers use conservation measures called best management practices—BMPs for short—to keep the topsoil on their crop fields where it is needed to produce food and out of waterways where it becomes a pollutant. They know that once the topsoil is lost, it is lost for good. Soil scientists estimate that it takes nature hundreds of years to make just one inch of topsoil.
There are many ways farmers work to protect the soil from erosion.
For more tips on how to prevent soil erosion and measures homeowners can take to protect local streams and the Bay, call or visit the Maryland Department of Agriculture at 410-841-5863 or visit their website at: www.mda.state.md.us/resource_conservation/environmental_education.
- Louise Lawrence