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Soil Erosion and Degradation
Goats will often overgraze areas, removing all vegetation and leaving bare earth.

Soil Erosion and Degradation

This Geography quiz is called 'Soil Erosion and Degradation' and it has been written by teachers to help you if you are studying the subject at middle school. Playing educational quizzes is a fabulous way to learn if you are in the 6th, 7th or 8th grade - aged 11 to 14.

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One of the topics studied in middle school Geography is soil erosion and degradation. This quiz looks not only at the causes of soil erosion, but also the effects - such as how it damages ecosystems. In the past 150 years half the topsoil on the planet has been lost. In addition compaction, loss of soil structure, loss of nutrients and an increase of salinity are damaging other parts of soil, destroying its ecosystems and the chances for plants to reclaim the land and begin to form a new ecosystem.

Heavy machinery often leads to soil compaction. How does soil compaction lead to soil erosion?
The solid soil is removed in blocks rather than in small amounts
The solid soil prevents water from percolating into the soil and increases surface runoff
The compacted soils will be lower and encourage water to pool and soil to be washed away
The machines remove large amounts of soil on their tire treads
Surface runoff causes soil erosion. Soil structure is a delicate balance and can be destroyed by compaction. Protecting the soil structure is a key method of reducing soil erosion
What happens to the soil when salinisation occurs?
During storms, sea water washes in and contaminates plants
Salts and other minerals are washed out of the soil during heavy rains
Water evaporates in high temperatures drawing salts from the soil to the surface
Flood water removes all the other soil particles except salt
Salt is toxic to many plants, so the soil ends up being bare and therefore more easily subjected to erosion. Irrigation can lead to salinisation. As water is brought in, it evaporates, drawing the salt up to the surface and leaving a layer that is dense in salt
Which of the following is not a method of soil conservation?
Planting hedges
Contour plowing
Slash and burn agriculture
Slash and burn agriculture removes all of the plant life from the surface exposing the soil to erosion
Where do most nutrients in soils come from?
Broken down rocks
Decaying organic matter
Rain fall
Volcanic eruptions
Since the nutrients come from decaying organic matter, they tend to be concentrated in the top layer of the soil
What type of erosion occurs when moderate rainfall on bare soil removes the topsoil down-slope?
Sheet Erosion
Gully Erosion
Wind Erosion
Sheet erosion is worse in areas with steep slopes, often removing the soil down to bare rock
Nomadic tribespeople are becoming more sedentary, leading to over cultivation. How is over cultivation defined?
Not planting enough crops to allow the soil to be protected from the rain
Planting more crops than can be watered, leading to death of some of the crops
The excessive use of farmland to the point where productivity falls due to soil exhaustion or land degradation
Adding too much fertilizer, leading to eutrophication of the streams and waterways.
Nomadic populations are being encouraged to settle down in fixed areas by the increase in land ownership and facilities such as stand pipes
What is the danger of soil being left bare in hot, dry zones?
Desertification as the soil blows away, leaving only the heavier sand grains
Weeds will grow rampant, preventing crops from growing
Build up of dry soils as the bare patch spreads
The nutrients will be leached away by the Sun
Bare soils can be caused by overgrazing or extreme droughts
On many islands and in some nature reserves, goats are being removed and banned. How does removing goats and similar grazing animals reduce soil erosion?
Goats tend to move around a lot, stirring up soil and leaving it open to erosion
Goats will often overgraze areas and remove all vegetation, leaving bare earth
The excess organic matter from the goats' droppings leads to pockets of rapid plant growth
Goats discourage other animals that may help the plants to grow
The roots of plants bind soil together, so, without vegetation, soil is more susceptible to erosion. Goats will even climb trees and strip leaves, thus reducing leaf litter
When a field is plowed, why is it best to plow at right angles to the slope?
Plowing parallel can lead to machines toppling over
Plowing at right angles to the slope improves plants' chances at getting equal sunlight
Plowing parallel to the slope draws the soil downhill
Plowing parallel to the slope can increase gully erosion
Plowing leaves behind ridges and furrows. If these are across the slope they trap water and runoff, but if they are down slope they encourage the water to run downhill and carry soil away with it
What form of erosion occurs when intense rainfall cuts small streams into slopes in areas with little or no vegetation cover?
Sheet Erosion
Gully Erosion
Wind Erosion
Tropical storms can cut gullies into slopes. These can become deep channels that flood in the wet seasons
Author:  Ruth M

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