Our soil is under attack from a number of different sources, some of which are wearing it down. One of those problems is top-soil erosion. As the wind and water bear down on the surface of Earth, it creates any number of problems for the rest of the world. While it is a normal process, it is nonetheless a process that is having a number of different effects, some of which we need to find ways to arrest. The most effective way of dealing with the problem is to cover the soil with some sort of ground cover, and the most effective version of that is simple plants. Fortunately, there are ways to accomplish that.
There are a number of companies working to help farmers and others to cover areas with plants. The basic idea is that plants help protect the soil underneath it from the wind while the roots help secure it against water. The plants also help aerate the soil while fixing nutrients that can help other plants grow. Companies like Granite Seed have plenty of information on the seeds that grow into the plants that secure the soil. Ideally, by growing a series of plants and letting them die or prosper, depending on the strategy being used, the plants can eventually create a system where the soil can be rescued. Fortunately, the solution really is that simple.
How It Works
The basic idea is that the topsoil is under attack from wind and water. The soil not only provides a cover for the ground below it but also helps to store carbon, making it valuable in the fight against greenhouse gases. The wind not only carries it off but becomes a grinder to force even more soil into the air. The water also carries off the soil, eventually dumping it into whatever large source of water is within range. If the process is allowed to continue, not only is more soil carried off but the soil is unable to store carbon, which exacerbates the problem. The soil keeps disappearing, carbon gets released into the atmosphere, and the process continues.
There is a way to help stop this or at least slow it down. Plants can be used to protect against the wind and the water. On one hand, the plants can provide cover from the wind, preventing it from picking up any soil in the first place. On the other hand, their roots can create a network below the surface of the soil that helps to secure the soil in place as well as provide aeration that helps to foster further plant growth as well as underground places for insects to live. They also help fix nutrients into the soil that help plant growth as well, most importantly nitrogen. All of this helps to create a thriving ecosystem that can help fend off the wind and water and help keep the soil exactly where it is.
There are other ways to protect the soil. It is possible to cover the soil with other ground covers that stop erosion, such as tarps and netting. The problem is that such solutions are limited in scope and cannot cover the truly large areas that must be covered. These are better suited to small areas. In order to cover those large areas, you need plants, especially those that can grow fast with a fibrous root structure. Ironically, this means weeds that would normally be a problem may help save the planet.
As noted, most solutions come down to killing them off or letting them prosper. Some areas are left fallow for long periods of time; these areas are left alone after the seeds are deposited in the land and the plants are allowed to invade. Over time the area has a nice cover of plants. Other areas, however, are meant for cultivation, and so the plants are allowed to go at it for a season or two and are then killed off. However, this does leave the fibrous roots in place allowing the plants to keep protecting the soil even when gone. As other plants replace them, the soil is further protected and stays in place.
Weeds can be used to effectively help stop land erosion and possibly prepare the soil for other plants. This helps protect the land while showing that everything really does have a purpose, allowing the planet to breathe a little easier.