Economic Costs of Erosion

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The economic costs of soil erosion can be difficult to quantify, keeping this in mind the USDA calculated annual offsite damage due to erosion "between $2 billion and $8 billion (National Research Council, pp. 115)." Soil Erosion causes both off-farm (offsite) and on-farm damage. The costly offsite damage can cause severe threats to the environment. Lake and reservoir capacity is lost to sedimentation each year (Solue, J.D., and J.K. Piper, pp. 15), which can result in a need for costly dredging. Other problems include sediments interfering with the breeding and feeding of various aquatic species, and the severity of flooding is affected by erosion. Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico is another offsite cost due to erosion. The erosion that occurs on the farm can reduce the productivity of land, labor, and capital on the farm, and increase the need for fertilizer and other inputs. The impacts of erosion that occurs on the farm have been estimated between $1 billion and $18 billion per year (National Research Council, pp. 116). Therefore, implementing erosion and sediment control practices could save farmers large costs each year.

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