Research into a UK arable farm has indicated that the soil could be eroded to the point of bedrock exposure within two centuries.
A study of an arable farm in Nottinghamshire found that – under the current management regime – the topsoil could be eroded in 138 years with bedrock exposure occurring in 212 years.
This work is one of the first in the world to measure the rates at which soils form in arable settings where soil erosion is also known. It provides the first quantitative estimate of soil lifespans and shows that soil erosion – accelerated by agricultural activities - is clearly happening at a faster rate than soil can be formed.
Researchers used a drilling rig to extract a core of soil and bedrock. A series of experiments enabled them to work out how fast soils form on this site. These rates were then compared with the rates of soil erosion.
Until now, there has been no measurement of soil formation and soil erosion in parallel on soils which are currently supporting agriculture.
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