Wind Erosion

Wind erosion happens when soils that have been cleared of plants are exposed to high-velocity wind. When wind speed is greater than the soil's gravitational and cohesive forces, it will shift soil and carry it away in suspension.

Wind erosion is caused by the movement and deposition of soil particles by the wind.

Wind moves soil particles between 0.1 and 0.5 mm in size by a bouncing movement and greater than 0.5 mm by rolling. The smallest particles (less than 0.1 mm) separate into suspension. Wind erosion is most easily seen during the suspension stage (dust storms) or as buildup along fence lines and across roads.

When environmentalists spot soil buildup along fence lines or against trees, it's a good sign of severe wind erosion over a long period of time. They also look for damage to young crops from sandblasting.

When fine soil grains are carried as dust during windy conditions, it's known as smoking paddocks. After wind erosion has gone on for a while, soil color lightens as organic matter, clays, and iron oxides are blown away. The soil surface becomes smooth with little texture or evidence of previous crops. In sandy soils regions, particles are sorted, leaving the surface covered with a coarse sand layer. When strong winds follow droughts, they stir up huge dust storms that blow fine soil particles over distances of hundreds of kilometers.

Some of the things that can be done to slow erosion include:

• Avoid letting plant cover drop below 30% on sandy soils;

• Control wind access to the soil (leaving stubble or mulch);

• Direct wind speed over a property by protected planting;

• Rotate crop types and frequency of field use;

• Limit tillage and direct-drilling practices; and

• Reduce and/or rotate livestock grazing.

Because soil forms slowly, it is essentially a finite resource. For a long time, many people didn't recognize this. The severity of global erosion is only now becoming widely known.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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