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Erosion: why it happens and what to do about it

eroding cropland
Topsoil eroding from North American farmland. In 200 years, the U.S. has lost over 1/3 of its topsoil. Half of U.S. fertilizer simply replaces nutrients lost to soil erosion.

Erosion is a worldwide problem that causes major environmental damage, including lost agricultural productivity and polluted waterways, and costs billions of dollars per year.

Historically, when soils fail, civilizations fall. Finding ways to grow soil rather than erode it presents a vital challenge for today's world.

A nation that destroys its soils, destroys itself.

-- U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1937

Part 1: Why erosion happens (20 photos)

Pictures tell the erosion story. How did California get its landslide problem? Why are serious floods becoming more common worldwide? What factors really favor erosion?

Part 2: Protecting and growing soil (15 photos)

Find out why most fixes for erosion fail. See what works to heal even severely degraded landscapes.

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thumbnail index Part 1 70 K     thumbnail index Part 2 60 K

Posted 10 August 2003