Monday, September 13, 2010

Bamboo and Soil Erosion - Holding the Earth Together One Plant at a Time

Soil ErosionImage by cyberdees via FlickrBy Douglas Michaels Jr.

Even though we talk a great deal about water and tree conservation, we sometimes forget that land itself is often a precious resource. Unfortunately it is one that is disappearing under the stress of overpopulation and irresponsible farming practices. Although we aren't necessarily losing square footage, we are losing the rich, fertile topsoil, and in a world with ever-increasing mouths to feed, the loss of that soil is one to worry about.

The bamboo plant is being looked at far more closely than ever as a means to control soil erosion in countries around the world.

Soil erosion is due to the following:

* Removal of vegetation - Whether it's deforestation or farming without proper crop rotation, the removal of vegetation will expose the topsoil to the elements causing it to disappear. This is just one reason why bamboo is a more responsible crop to grow. It can be harvested by cutting at the base of the plant rather than a full removal from the ground.

* Sheet Erosion - The removal of the entire topsoil as a result of heavy rain

* Rill Erosion - The removal of topsoil brought on by runoff water that has formed little streams

* Gully Erosion - The removal of topsoil brought on by deep depressions formed by swiftly moving waters

* Riparian erosion - The removal of both topsoil & underlying soil by fast moving river waters

* Soil Leaching - Not actually a loss of topsoil itself but the disintegration via rainfall of the minerals which make topsoil so fertile.

* Wind erosion - This is more common in areas where there is less vegetation, the heavy winds move the fine particles of topsoil to other areas. This is often a major concern in areas where desert winds are starting to carry sand into fertile lands and is adding to the desertification of some countries.

Bamboo is ideal to help control soil erosion for the very same reason that some homeowners hate it. Running bamboo has a net like root system that creates an effective mechanism for watershed protection. It works to stitch the soil together along fragile riverbanks, deforested areas and in places prone to earthquakes and mudslides.

Studies have shown that because of this wide-spreading root system along with the unique shape of the bamboo leaf create a stem flow rate of 25% which means that bamboo greatly reduces rain run-off, prevents massive soil erosion and keeps up to twice as much water in a watershed. What makes bamboo even far more ideal for use in soil erosion is that it's hearty enough to flourish in areas where poor farming practices and overgrazing have damaged the soil.

Douglas Michaels Jr. writes educational articles for Green Earth News, the authority on everything Bamboo. For more information on Soil Erosion. Check out Green Earth Bamboo for bamboo sheets, bamboo clothes, duvet covers, towels and baby products, all made from the world's most sustainable and renewable resource on the planet.

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