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      Soil erosion and agricultural sustainability.

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

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          Abstract

          Data drawn from a global compilation of studies quantitatively confirm the long-articulated contention that erosion rates from conventionally plowed agricultural fields average 1-2 orders of magnitude greater than rates of soil production, erosion under native vegetation, and long-term geological erosion. The general equivalence of the latter indicates that, considered globally, hillslope soil production and erosion evolve to balance geologic and climate forcing, whereas conventional plow-based agriculture increases erosion rates enough to prove unsustainable. In contrast to how net soil erosion rates in conventionally plowed fields ( approximately 1 mm/yr) can erode through a typical hillslope soil profile over time scales comparable to the longevity of major civilizations, no-till agriculture produces erosion rates much closer to soil production rates and therefore could provide a foundation for sustainable agriculture.

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          Most cited references23

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          World-Wide Delivery of River Sediment to the Oceans

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            Functional relationships between denudation, relief, and uplift in large, mid-latitude drainage basins

            F. Ahnert (1970)
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              Topographic controls on erosion rates in tectonically active mountain ranges

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                17686990
                1948917
                10.1073/pnas.0611508104

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