Managing or reducing soil erosion is important because erosion causes environmental problems such as muddy waters and pesticide and fertilizer pollution. It also causes economic problems because of loss of arable land and lower crop yields. Another problem associated with erosion is loss of water to rapid runoff.
Worldwide, 5 million to 12 million acres of arable land are estimated lost to erosion every year. In some places, farmers lose 100 percent of their arable land in cases of major erosion. Even loss of a small amount of arable land can cause economic disaster for a farmer. Erosion control can prevent fields from collapsing and drainage systems from getting clogged.
Other negative factors of erosion include fish death, silting of rivers and dams, costs associated with dredging of harbors and flooding of populated areas. Erosion sometimes causes the peak flow of rivers to rise, which may result in damage to bridges and other structures.
It is not just farmland that is prone to soil loss. Forest fires and clear-cutting can cause soil degradation and loss, which pollutes rivers and streams and kills aquatic life; it can make it difficult for a new generation of plants and animals to grow. Because of soil erosion and nutrient loss from clear-cutting, many old-growth forest areas are now deserts.