VI. SOIL EROSION AND COMPACTION
Soil Erosion in Indiana Next Section>>
Soil is the basis for a multi-billion dollar industry in Indiana. Each year, over 100 million tons of soil erodes from Indiana’s cropland, pastures, forests, and other places where people live and work, such as residential areas, industrial areas, and parks. Another 17 million tons of soil erodes from stream banks, gullies, roadsides, and construction sites. Much of that soil enters lakes, streams, reservoirs, and rivers as sediment. Sedimentation of the state’s waterways results in poor water quality, diminished recreational use, reduced storage capacity, reduced floodwater retention, degradation of aquatic life, and depreciated property values. In addition, chemicals associated with eroded soil can cause excessive aquatic plant and algae growth, speed up eutrophication (lake aging), and pollute the water.
Sediment removal, water treatment, and property repairs are costly. It is cheaper to prevent erosion problems than to correct them. Sensible land-use decisions, planning, and relatively inexpensive management practices can prevent, or at least minimize, the impact of many erosion and sedimentation problems. However, benefits of erosion control cannot be measured in dollars alone. Control of soil erosion also helps:
Since the first dust storms swept through the Midwest in the 1930s, Hoosier landowners, conservation groups, and governmental agencies have worked to reduce topsoil loss and return depleted Indiana farms to their former levels of soil productivity. Urban conservation, aimed at Indiana’s expanding cities and towns, has further addressed sediment reduction in streams, as well as erosion challenges on residential and commercial properties. Organized state initiatives, such as the T-By-2000 program and its successor, the Clean Water Indiana program (Fig. 53) , have fostered cooperation between landowners, governmental agencies, and conservation groups to reduce soil losses. Since 1987, Indiana’s average annual cropland erosion rate dropped 31%, from 4.5 to 3.1 tons per acre.
Fig 53. Logo for Clean Water Indiana