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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Mitigating Agricultural Sources of Particulate Matter and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Pacific Northwest

Location: Land Management and Water Conservation Research

Title: Erosion by wind: source, measurement, prediction, and control

Authors
item Sharratt, Brenton
item Van Pelt, Robert

Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Environmental Management
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: September 7, 2010
Publication Date: August 20, 2013
Citation: Sharratt, B.S., Van Pelt, R.S. 2013. Erosion by wind: source, measurement, prediction, and control. In: Jorgensen, S.E., editor. Encyclopedia of Environmental Management. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis Group. p. 1017-1030.

Interpretive Summary: Wind erosion is a phenomenon affecting air, soil, and water resources worldwide. There are few educational resources that describe the impact of wind erosion on the environment in which we live and how to control wind erosion to improve the quality of the environment. Information is summarized that describe the processes of wind erosion, worldwide sources of dust resulting from wind erosion, techniques available to monitor wind erosion, best management strategies to control wind erosion, and the role of government in encouraging land management practices to reduce wind erosion. This information is invaluable to farmers, food-processing industry representatives, and state and federal regulatory agencies in developing a holistic approach to control wind erosion using cost-effective technologies.

Technical Abstract: Wind erosion is the movement of soil by wind and occurs primarily in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Loss of soil from a landscape not only affects soil productivity, but also air and water quality. Indeed, atmospheric dust generated by wind erosion has resulted in communities exceeding clean air standards and lake closures due to algae blooms. The primary factors influencing wind erosion are wind, vegetative and nonerodible element cover, surface roughness, soil particle size, soil wetness, soil aggregation, and soil crusting. A wide range of passive and dynamic instruments are available for detecting instantaneous or long-term soil movement and dust emissions. These instruments are integral to monitoring and predicting wind erosion. Computer models to predict wind erosion have advanced over nearly five decades and are valuable tools to identify the impact of land management practices on erosion. The most effective management practices available today for controlling wind erosion include establishing native perennial species in deserts, rangelands, and shrublands; limiting grazing on sensitive rangelands; regulating water levels of interior seas or lakes; establishing vegetative wind strips; maintaining vegetative or crop residue cover on the soil surface; and applying chemical stabilizers to soils. Adoption of these practices by land managers to control wind erosion is influenced by an awareness of the practice, availability of resources to apply the practice, effectiveness of the practice, and economics of adopting the practice. Public support to encourage adoption or development of erosion control practices is needed to ensure that air, soil, and water resources are available to meet the needs of future generations.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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